Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 13 sacked the country's first woman Chief Justice by ratifying her controversial impeachment by Parliament on corruption charges despite protests at home and global calls for restraint, pushing the nation into the brink of a major Constitutional stand-off. 54-year-old Shirani Bandaranayake was served a notice ordering her to quit her post, two days after the Parliament overwhelmingly voted to impeach her deepening the row between the judiciary and the government.
Presidential aide Wijayananda Herath said the letter signed by Rajapaksa was delivered to the Chief Justice's residence. Bandaranayake's lawyers confirmed the receipt of the letter informing her of her removal from the post. The impeachment of Bandaranayake had earlier been ruled as unconstitutional by courts and a finding by the Parliamentary committee that held her "guilty" had been quashed.
The impeachment of the Chief Justice went ahead despite calls by rights groups, citizens, clergy and lawyers who asked the government not to do so. By ordering the sacking of Bandaranayake, Rajapaksa acted in defiance of several international pleas for a review of the process, including from the US and UN.
The Parliamentary committee on December 8, 2012, had ruled that Bandaranayake was guilty of three of the 14 charges in the impeachment proceedings against her moved by the ruling UPFA coalition legislators. The three charges were of financial impropriety based on non-declaration of assets and conflict of interest in a case involving a failed investment company.