Power to impeach SC judges lies with President and Parliament

Supreme Court sets aside Court of Appeal judgment that quashed PSC findings



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*CA writ jurisdiction does not extend to Parliament, PSC
*Ex-CJ Dr. Bandaranayake absent, unrepresented

 Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake


By Chitra Weerarathne


The Supreme Court in a judgment delivered yesterday (21) said that the Court of Appeal possessed no jurisdiction in terms of Article 140 of the constitution to review a report of a Select Committee of Parliament constituted in terms of Article 107(3) of the Constitution read with order 87A (2) of the Standing Order of Parliament or to grant and issue an order in the nature of a Writ of Certiorari purporting to quash the report and findings of a Parliamentary Select Committee on the basis that it was not properly constituted.


The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court set aside the impugned judgment of the Court of Appeal dated January 7, 2013.


The application filed by the petitioner respondent Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake in the Court of Appeal, shall stand dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction.


No costs were ordered.


The special leave to Appeal, filed in the Supreme Court by the Attorney General against the Court of Appeal Judgment was allowed.


The Supreme Court Judgment explained that, by order dated April 30, 2013 and June 28, 2013, it had granted special leave to appeal, against the judgment of the Court of Appeal dated January 7, 2013, on two questions of public or general importance. These two question concerned the ambit of the writ jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal, in particular whether the Court of Appeal had the power to issue a Writ of Certiorari, in terms of Article 140 of the Constitution, in respect of the proceedings of Parliament or of a parliamentary select committee within the process of impeachment of a Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, under article 107 of the Constitution.


The two substantiating questions on which leave to appeal was granted to the petitioner appellant Attorney General was whether the Court of Appeal had erred in holding that the Writ jurisdiction of that Court embodied in Article 140 of the Constitution extended to proceedings of Parliament or a Parliamentary Select Committee and whether the Court of Appeal had erred in holding that the words, any court of first instance or tribunal or other institution or any other person in Article 140 of the Constitution extended to Parliament or a committee of Parliament.


The Supreme Court declared that Section 3 of the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act No. 21 of 1953 read with Article 4C and Article 67 of the constitution, would have the effect of ousting the writ jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal in all the circumstances of this case in answering question (2) on which special leave to appeal was granted.


In answering the question (1) on which special leave to appeal was granted to the petitioner–appellant Attorney General, the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal, had erred in holding that the writ jurisdiction of that Court embodied in Article 140 extended to proceeding of Parliament or a Select Committee of Parliament performing its constitutional function in terms of Article 107 (2) and (3) of the Constitution read with Order 87A of Standing Order of Parliament.


The judgment explained that according to the present Constitution of Sri Lanka, the process and power of impeachment of a Supreme Court judge lay with the President and Parliament. Parliament was vested with judicial power of the people exercised through the Court.


The Supreme Court allowed the appeal by the Attorney General and set aside the impugned judgment of the Court of Appeal dated January 7, 2013.


Palitha Fernando, Attorney General PC, appeared with Deputy Solicitors General, Shavindra Fernando, Sanjay Rajaratnam, Dilip Nawaz, Janak de Silva, Senior State Counsel Nerin Pulle and state Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe for the petitioner appellant the Attorney General.


M. A. Sumanthiran appeared with Viran Corea and Niran Anketell for R. Sampanthan.


J.C. Weliamuna appeared with Sunil Watagala, Pulsith Hewamanne and Mevan Bandara for Vijitha Herath.


The petitioner respondent in the Supreme Court Dr. Bandaranayake was absent and unrepresented.


The judgment was by Justice Saleem Marsoof with Justice Chandra Ekanayake, Justice Sathya Hettige, Justice Eva Wanasundera and Justice Rohini Marasinghe agreeing.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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