Colombo, Jan. 13 (Reuters): President Mahinda Rajapaksa removed Sri Lanka’s chief justice from office with immediate effect today, defying a Supreme Court ruling that the impeachment process was illegal and setting the stage for a possible constitutional crisis.
Rajapaksa’s ruling party voted to impeach Shirani Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka’s first female chief justice, on Friday.
The move has caused an outcry among Opposition lawmakers, religious leaders and lawyers, prompted the US and UN to voice concern for the integrity of justice in the South Asian state, and may alarm foreign investors.
“The President has said in the removal statement that he was in agreement with the request for the removal of the chief justice from office made in the said address of parliament,” Rajapaksa’s office said in a statement.
Bandaranayake’s lawyers confirmed that she had been notified of her dismissal, but declined to say if she would leave office.