No talk of impeachment at party leaders’ meet

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 00:21 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians

The Supreme Court determination on the controversial Divi Neguma Bill and the Northern Governor ability to endorse the proposed legislation will be presented to Parliament today.

At the party leaders meeting summoned by Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa last afternoon, the topic of the motion of impeachment filed against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was not taken up for discussion as widely expected, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan told Daily FT. “The Speaker said that the impeachment motion would not be discussed,” Sampanthan said.

The Supreme Court’s blockade on the proposed Divi Neguma legislation is believed to have been the tipping point in the conflict between the Government and the Judiciary, culminating in the ruling coalition starting impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice last week.

“We were made to understand that once the ruling was presented to parliament, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa would make a statement,” the TNA Leader explained.

Daily FT learns that the Supreme Court has determined that the Divi Neguma bill would require a two thirds majority and a referendum to be enacted into law.

In a new development on the impeachment issue, Lanka Sama Samaja Party MP, W.G. Padmasiri withdrew his name from the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice yesterday. Speaking to Daily FT, LSSP Deputy Secretary Anil De Soyza said that MP Padmasiri had informed the Speaker in writing that he was withdrawing his name from the impeachment motion.

The LSSP is a constituent member of the ruling UPFA coalition. The withdrawal follows a decision made by the party’s politburo that it would not support the Government’s move to remove the Chief Justice. LSSP Party Leader and Minister Tissa Vitharana did not sign the Government motion, De Soyza said. Daily FT learns that the Communist Party is also likely to oppose the move to impeach Chief Justice Bandaranayake.

Meanwhile the Vipakshaye Virodhaya movement, a collaboration of several opposition parties including the UNP and the TNA in a statement yesterday said they would oppose any move by the executive to go on a witch hunt of members of the Judiciary for political gain.

Once the Parliamentary Select Committee to probe the impeachment motion against the CJ is constituted until the proceedings are complete, Parliament must behave like a court of law. “Since a court of law must be seen to be impartial and not bring disrepute on itself, all parliamentarians must only focus on the issues directly before them and not allow their actions to be governed by political posturing,” the Opposition collective pointed out.

The statement was signed by UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, TNA Leader R. Sampanthan, United Socialist Party Siritunga Jayasuriya, New Samasamaja Party Leader Wickremabahu Karunaratne, Democratic People’s Party Leader Mano Ganeshan, New Sihala Urumaya Party Leader Sarath Manmendra, United National Front Leader Sirimasiri Hapuarachchi, Mawbima Peoples’ Party Leader Hemakumara Nanayakkara and Ruhunu Peoples Party Leader Aruna Soyza.