Sri Lanka lawyers body petitions court against top judge trial



Colombo: The apex body of lawyers in Sri Lanka has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the impeachment of the country's first woman chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake for alleged personal and professional misconduct.

Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) officials said the petition was filed in the Supreme Court by four members of its committee including its president Wijedasa Rajapaksa who is also a main opposition United National Party (UNP) legislator.

They claim that their fundamental rights had been violated by the move to impeach Bandaranayake, 54, who also became the island's first ever woman Supreme Court judge in 1996 before being appointed chief justice in 2011.

She appeared for impeachment motion proceedings before the parliamentary select committee last Friday which will be reconvened on December 4.

The PSC was convened in spite of a request from the Supreme Court to delay the process.

Bandaranayake is charged with 14 counts of personal and professional misconduct. The opposition dubs the government move as a political witch hunt in order to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

The impeachment was the culmination of a month-long spat between the judiciary and the executive wing of the state.

The judiciary cited political interference violating its independence as the reason for friction.

The government's move was criticised by the US, Commonwealth and international rights watch groups as an action undermining the independence of judiciary.

PTI