After two days of debating, the controversial impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was today passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority with 155 MPs voting for the motion and 49 against. Twenty members were absent at the time of the voting.
The government members voted for the motion while the United National Party (UNP) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs voted against the motion. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MPs walked out of parliament at the start of the debate.
According to Standing Order 78(A) section 7, once the motion is passed in Parliament the Speaker would have to present the motion to the President of behalf of Parliament. Thereafter according to Article 107(2) of the Constitution the Chief Justice has to be removed by an order of the President.
According to government sources the resolution adopted by Parliament was sent to the President last night further action.
Meanwhile, at the conclusion of the debate on the impeachment motion last evening, UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella raised a point of order objecting to the vote being taken. Mr. Kiriella pointed out that the taking up of the vote had not been included in the day’s parliamentary agenda and therefore not voting could take place. UNP MPs Dayasiri Jayasekera and Ajith P. Perera also supported the point of order raised by Mr. Kiriella.
Considering the submissions made by the opposition, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa suspended the sittings for 10 minutes. But, when the sittings resumed the Speaker announced that the vote could go ahead according to the Standing Orders.
The final day’s debate on the impeachment motion started in Parliament yesterday, with the opposition raising concerns about the presence of a large number of government supporters at the entrance to the parliamentary complex.
At the start of day’s business, Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga said the presence of such a large crowd poses a threat to the lives of opposition MPs on their way back home after the end of day’s sessions.
He said the crowd was an obstruction to the MPs who arrived in Parliament to participate in the debate. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said he would definitely look into the matter, and make sure anything untoward would not happen. The crowd had been transported to the area around the parliamentary complex in state-owned buses, apparently as a show of strength in support of the impeachment of the Chief Justice.
On behalf of the government, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena started the debate on the impeachment motion, and accused the Chief Justice of financial and administrative wrongdoings. UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella who also served the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that probed charges, said the Chief Justice was not given a fair hearing during the process, which he said remained fundamentally flawed. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)