November 1, 2012 - 14:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Sri Lankan governing party MPs have begun moves to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. A parliamentary motion to impeach Bandaranayake was submitted on Thursday, Nov 1, officials say, according to BBC News.
Impeachment is the only constitutional way to remove a sitting chief justice.
Bandaranayake was appointed Sri Lanka's first woman chief justice last year. President Mahinda Rajapakse's UPFA party has enough seats for the impeachment to succeed, but the process could take months.
It is unclear what the precise charges against Bandaranayake are, but the initial proposal has received the approval of the required number of lawmakers.
On Tuesday the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association (IBAHRI) said that a move to impeach the chief justice runs the risk of being seen as an attempt to curtail the independence of the judiciary.
"The potential for any such action to be perceived as politically motivated in light of Supreme Court findings against the government on a matter of constitutional importance does give the appearance that in fact the impeachment might be linked to the judicial function - that [if] the government don't like what the judges are doing they are going to remove the chief justice," co-chair Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC, said.
But the government categorically rejects such implications, describing them as "unfortunate".
Recently, Sri Lanka's Supreme Court ruled that a bill which proposed transferring vital powers held by Sri Lanka's provinces back to the central government needed prior approval from provincial councils.