Lanka President Sacks First Woman Top Judge Over Graft

COLOMBO (TIP): Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Jan 13 sacked the country’s first woman chief justice Shirani Bandarnayake after ratifying her impeachment by parliament which held her guilty of corruption, notwithstanding widespread protests by lawyers and others. The 54-year-old Bandaranayake was served a notice ordering her to quit her post, two days after the parliament overwhelmingly voted to impeach her deepening a standoff between the judiciary and the government. The impeachment of Bandaranayake had earlier been ruled as unconstitutional by courts and a finding by the parliamentary committee that found her “guilty” had been quashed.

The parliamentary committee on December 8, 2012, had ruled that Bandaranayake was guilty of three of the 14 charges in the impeachment proceedings against her moved by the ruling UPFA coalition legislators. The three charges were of financial impropriety based on non-declaration of assets and conflict of interest in a case involving a failed investment company. She denied all the charges against her. On December 6, she stormed out of the impeachment hearing in parliament, saying she would not be given a fair trial. She also claimed verbal abuse by the government members of the parliamentary panel. On Friday, the House voted 155 to 49 to dismiss Bandaranayake, whose recent rulings had gone against government.

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