Chief Justice sacked

Termination letter delivered, her reaction unknown


Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake was served with a letter of dismissal, signed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, yesterday.

The letter dismissing her from office immediately was hand delivered to the Chief Justice, at her official residence situated at the corner of Wijerama Mawatha and Bauddhaloka Mawatha before noon yesterday, according to government sources.

A presidential Secretariat media release said that the measure has been taken "in accordance with the resolution passed by Parliament on January 11, 2013". It said, "The President has said in his order that he was in agreement with the request for the removal of Chief Justice from office made in the said address of parliament."

According to those who were watching the Chief Justice’s movements since the delivery of the letter, she had left her official residence in the afternoon in a red KIA SUV. It is believed that she was on her way to consult some judges and lawyers. Her official vehicle, was however parked at her official residence.

Sources close to President Rajapaksa said he had offered the CJ the opportunity to resign with all benefits due to such a high official, including her pension.

There was speculation that she might go for a constitutional showdown by refusing to quit, on the basis of the interpretation given by the Supreme Court, which stated that Standing Orders were not law. A three-Judge Bench also ruled that a parliamentary Select Committee had no legal power or authority to make a finding adversely affecting the legal rights of a judge. The Court of Appeal issued a writ of certiorari quashing the findings of the Parliamentary Select Committee that probed the charges against her by the government.

On Saturday the president met all the Supreme Court judges, except the CJ, at the Presidential Secretariat and explained the events that had led to the standoff between the executive and the legislature on the one hand and the judiciary on the other.

He disclosed to the judges that the Chief Justice Bandaranayake had sought an extension till April with certain conditions, but he was not in favour of it.

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