ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Independent Judiciary and Rule of Law

Demolished in Sri Lanka

Among the continuing acts that erode democratic institutions in Sri Lanka is the recent impeachment of the Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers who head various arms of the Sri Lankan government run a repressive and autocratic regime that does not brook opposition. Despite this, the opposition parties Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Tamil National Alliance along with civil society bodies like the Federation of University Teachers' Associations and students have come together to fi ght back.

The impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Shirani Bandaranayake in January constitutes yet another deadly blow against the badly-eroded edifice of democracy in that country, striking at the one remaining institution that held out hope of acting as a bulwark against a regime that has demolished every challenge that is posed to its absolute power.

Bandaranayake became a Supreme Court judge in 1996 when Chandrika Kumaratunga was president, and was appointed as chief justice – the first woman to hold this post in Sri Lanka – by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2011. As it now becomes clear, she was expected to provide a rubber stamp of legality and constitutionality to every decision made by the regime (in effect, the Rajapaksa brothers), and at first she lived up to that expectation. In mid-2011, the Ministry of Higher Education made it compulsory for all university entrants to undergo “leadership training” courses in military camps under defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa (one of the president’s brothers) before they could begin their degree courses (Hensman 2011).

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