| by  N.S.Venkataraman

( November 12, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankan parliament has admitted a motion to impeach the Chief Justice of  Sri Lanka. The Chief Justice has been accused of unethical conduct in the performance of  her duties, harassment of junior judges and financial irregularities including unauthorised  possession of large amount of foreign exchange.  She was the Chief Justice even when a corruption case against her husband was pending in the magistrate’s court.

Sri Lanka appears to be paying a big price  due to this confrontation that would result in loss of credibility and reputation for the entire judiciary system itself.
The move to impeach the Chief Justice is obviously a political decision , though it may be argued that there are  valid grounds for it. The Chief Justice is bound to respond stating  that the charges have been motivated and unjustified due to political or other considerations.  When a Chief Justice herself is facing such charge, who could sit on the judgement !

While  as per the constitution, parliament is entitled to impeach the Chief Justice and remove her from the post, one cannot ignore the fact that many members of the parliament including the leaders of various parties themselves  have often faced charges of corruption and nepotism.  Many people will wonder how can someone suspected of corrupt dealings can accuse and punish someone else of corrupt practices;  in this case, Chief Justice of Sri Lanka.

The question that comes to one’s mind is as to why such a person of doubtful integrity was selected to become the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka at all in the first place.  Obviously, the selection process has been wrong or  those who have been responsible for selecting her were themselves dishonest.

Nobody becomes corrupt and dishonest over night.  One can become the Chief Justice after spending several years in the bar and holding positions as judicial officers at various levels in various places. Normally , anyone would be selected for the post of Chief Justice only if the concerned person has a blemish less track record over length of time without facing any charges or any punishments during the entire career.  One would reasonably think that the present Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, now facing impeachment would have enjoyed such track record without which she could not have become the Chief Justice.

Under the circumstances, the move to impeach the Chief Justice reflects also on those in charge of the government who have appointed her for the post.  This certainly reflects on the President of Sri Lanka who is the ultimate appointing authority.

We have heard the moves to impeach President in USA in the past but the US President is an elected political leader.  The move to impeach a political personality cannot be equated with the move to impeach a Chief Justice.

In any case, the entire episode that Sri Lanka is now witnessing is nauseating and shows both the Chief Justice and the political leadership of Sri Lanka in poor light.  They seem to be fighting with each other, at the cost of the reputation of Sri Lanka.  It would be graceful if the Chief Justice would resign the post on her own and avoid the ugly scenario of the Sri Lankan parliament removing her.  Alternately, the parliament should have the wisdom to allow her to continue in the post till her term would be over, since it has done “the mistake” , of appointing her for the post.

Sri Lanka appears to be paying a big price  due to this confrontation that would result in loss of credibility and reputation for the entire judiciary system itself.