IMPEACHMENT OF CHIEF JUSTICE NOT A HEALTHY MOVE

| by N.S.Venkataraman

( January 13, 2013, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) The news that Sri Lankan Parliament has approved the proposal to impeach the Sri Lankan Chief Justice cannot enhance the prestige of Sri Lanka. This  matter should have been dealt with greater dignity and tact . What particularly causes concern is that such move to impeach Sri Lankan Chief Justice  give an impression that decisions by  Sri Lankan government  may be taken without transparency. At this juncture, one cannot but  remember the fact that Sri Lankan government led by Rajapaksa  arrested Gen. Fonseka earlier , who was the Chief of army  and was widely believed to have been responsible for defeating the LTTE.
Acts like impeaching a chief justice or arresting the former army chief  inevitably create an impression that Rajapaksa’s government has an intolerant attitude towards those whom it considers as adversaries.  Country cannot be run smoothly in a progressive manner by adopting such approach to the issues. Constitutional position like chief  justice and highly responsible position like army chief  are belittled by firing people occupying such positions with contempt.  The top government leadership should show qualities of statesmanship and exhibit wisdom and should not  simply sack people occupying such top positions at its whims and fancies, which will create feelings of bitterness in the country’s political and administrative mainstream that would stay for a long time, even after the expiry of the term of the present government leadership.
For an outsider, who is not part of the government decision taking process , it is difficult to know who is right or who is wrong in such matters. While Rajapaksa’s government accuses the Chief Justice and the former  army chief  with charges of  grave impropriety, the fact is that similar charges have been  made against the government by the Chief Justice and former army chief. When such mutual allegations take  place, citizens  become confused  and feel frustrated and ultimately lose confidence in the credibility of the government itself. This would not be a good augury.
In such circumstances, it would have been appropriate for the Sri Lankan government to appoint an independent commission, constituting former judges in Sri Lanka ,so that this commission would probe the matter and give its considered recommendations. There is no news that such an independent and credible commission has been appointed to look into the charges against the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. On the other hand, it now looks that the decision to impeach Chief Justice has been taken by the politicians (members of parliament), without receiving any recommendations from an independent enquiry commission.
Now that the parliament has approved  the move to impeach the Sri Lankan Chief Justice, she will go away from the job.  She would  go away just like the former army chief Gen. Fonseka who  was made to go away. Gen. Fonseka was arrested inspite of being the army chief who defended the country in a civil war  and won for Sri Lanka. It remains to be seen whether the impeached Chief Justice would also be arrested.
All one can say is such affairs in Sri Lanka should be managed better with far sighted wisdom.
President Rajapaksa has to accept the responsibility for such developments  and perhaps , history would judge that he has taken such critical decisions on  highly delicate matters  and implemented them without taking people into confidence and without  transparency.  One only hope that the President would realise that  in spite of his achievements of bringing stability in Sri Lanka, he may go into history  as a leader who lacked  tolerance , which is the cardinal principle of leadership in democratic  system.
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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