Impeachment and the Dilemma of Independent Judiciary: a personal perspective PDF Print E-mail

kamal-nissanka1-150x150Kamal Nissanka, Attorney-at-Law

If my recollection is correct, from Sir Edmund Codrington Carrington the first Chief Justice of the maritime areas of Ceylon to Dr Shirani Bandaranayake there have been 43 chief justices in Ceylon and Sri Lanka. After the introduction of the 1978 Republican Constitution the judiciary was under eight Chief Justices beginning with Mr.Neville Samarakoon to the incumbent. Of them, three faced impeachments. The Impeachments of Mr. Samarakoon and Dr Bandaranayake were initiated by the respective governing parties under the leadership of the President. The two impeachments of Mr Sarath Silva were initiated by the then governing United National Party (UNP) government without the blessings of the President Mrs.Chandrika Kumaratunga. Mr. Silva was lucky to evade the impeachments firstly as a result of the proroguing of parliament and secondly by dissolution of the parliament by Mrs Kumaratunga. According to the Sunday Leader of 28th September 2008 in an article written by Ms. Sonali Samarasinghe (MR gets set to battle the judiciary as war takes its toll on IDPs) an attempt had been taken to impeach Mr.Saleem Marzoof, a judge of the present Supreme Court with regard to a comment made by him on non-implementation of the 17th amendment to the constitution. The 17th amendment has since been repealed.

So, under this 1978 constitution as at present, it seems there is a 37.5% of a Chief Justice being. This is a grave situation, and should be of deep concern to all honorable judges in Sri Lanka specially the superior court judges. In scrutinizing the manner of appointment of the three judges who have faced impeachment, one clear common is that all three were not career judges. For some reason, the then President J R Jayawardene , creator of the 1978 constitution, trusted Mr Samarakoon, , a respected lawyer from the unofficial bar, but at a crucial stage, Mr Samarakoon felt that the judiciary in Sri Lanka was not independent as it had been under the Soulbury Constitution. Further he clearly understood that the President of the day, his personal friend, was moving towards authoritarianism through his draconian constitution. A man of principles and a much respected Chief Justice, Mr Samarakoon said as much and courageously faced the proceedings under Standing Orders which were framed especially to try him, under the direction of his estranged friend, President Jayawardene.

Impeachment of the Chief Justice in Sri Lanka: A Comparison PDF Print E-mail

Kamal Nissanka, Attorney-at-Law

BA (Hon), PgD(International Relations)

The impeachment motion filed against the chief justice of Sri Lanka a few days ago (Nov 1, 2012) has resulted in bringing a political storm especially within the legal and political sphere of the island. The voices of politicians and political parties are heard around on the theme while the legal community is coming forward with various constructive criticisms regarding the whole national drama. In this developing situation it is worthwhile to look in comparison another friendly Asian country that brought its Chief Justice through an impeachment process this year and dismissed him from the high profile post in May 2012. He was Mr. Renato .C. Corona, then Chief Justice of Philippines.

Mr. Corona was made the chief justice of Philippines just a few weeks back to the Presidential Election of 2010 by then Philippine President Ms Gloria Arroyo. Previously he was the Chief of Staff of the former President Ms Gloria Arroyo administration. In our situation the incumbent Chief Justice was appointed a Supreme Court judge in 1996 by then President Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga. When she assumed the duties as a Supreme Court judge she had to face three fundamental rights cases against her which were decided by a bench of seven judges. One petitioner argued that Ms Shirani Bandaranayaka was pro devolution. It was a period where the People's Alliance government under Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga was pushing her draft for a new constitution. Former President might have thought that a judge in the caliber of Ms Shirani Bandaranayake would have been advantageous to the expected legal challenges in that era. We don't know the exact rationale behind the appointment surpassing carreer judges. It took further 15 more years for Ms Shirani Bandaranayaka to sit on the august bench of the Supreme Court as the first woman Chief Justice in Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

The saga of impeachment is also linked to her husband's fate, a political appointee by the President Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse as a member of the board of directors, first to Insurance Cooperation, then to the Lanka Hospitals and finaly as the chairman of the National Savings Bank (NSB). Whether he was correct or incorrect, corrupted or clean under his chairmanship the NSB was involved in an unjustified share deal bringing public distrust on the bank. Two weeks before the impeachment motion against chief justice, a case was filed against her husband on bribery and corruption charges.

Sabaragamuwa Junior School presents Sinhala and Tamil folk dances at opening by UNICEF Head of English Activity Centre on World Children’s Day PDF Print E-mail

english activity centre at the karandana junior school in the eheliyagoda educational division 2012On World Children's Day the Country Director of UNICEF in Sri Lanka, Mr Reza Husseini, opened an English Activity Centre at the Karandana Junior School in the Eheliyagoda Educational Division. The Centre, which also includes two classrooms for Grade V students, and looks out over the local hills, was built with decentralized funds allocated by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha.

Mr Husseini unveiled the plaque which was in English and Sinhala and Tamil, and students introduced the programme in all three languages. The school also presented Sinhala and Tamil Folk Dance items with great skill and enthusiasm.

Students from Sri Jinaratna Maha Vidyalaya, the Karandana Secondary School, welcomed Mr Husseini with a traditional dance. Accompanying them was an English Volunteer Teacher, Ms Melissa Hughes, whose work follows that of an earlier Volunteer at the Junior School. Other Volunteers have also served in schools in Eheliyagoda and Kiriella and Ruwanwella under the same programme, which has contributed to greater confidence amongst school children in the use of English.

CALD Statement on Climate Change PDF Print E-mail



CALD Statement on Climate Change

We, the representatives of the Democrat Party (Thailand), Democratic Progressive Party (Taiwan), Liberal Party (Philippines), Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, Singapore Democratic Party, Liberal Party (Sri Lanka), National Council of the Union of Burma, Sam Rainsy Party (Cambodia), Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and Civil Will Party (Mongolia), full member parties of CALD, on the occasion of CALD Climate Change Conference in Palawan, Philippines, following on our previous workshops in Bangkok, Thailand (28 November-1 December 2011) and Cagayan de Oro/Bukidnon, The Philippines (10-14 February 2012); 

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