Verma’s next task: Mission to Lanka over CJ impeachment
Even as the country continues to debate the 630-page exhaustive report finalised by the three-member government-appointed committee on crimes against women headed by him, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma is already packing his bags for his next assignment.
On February 1, the renowned jurist will leave for Sri Lankan capital Colombo as head of a high-level international fact-finding delegation whose mandate is to probe and prepare a report about the recent impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake by the parliament.
The impeachment was preceded by a high-decibel campaign by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which had levelled allegations of corruption against the chief justice, with many critics, including leading lights of the legal fraternity, picking holes in the government version. Lawyers in the island nation have remained united behind the former CJ, who had a history of strong anti-government rulings, one reason why she was seen as a thorn in the government's side.
Incidentally, the parliament, where the President's party has a brutal majority, voted to impeach her despite two successive court rulings which had held the impeachment process illegal.
The fact-finding mission headed by Justice Verma, who will be accompanied by House of Lords member Baroness Usha Prashar, among others, is being sent by the International Bar Association.
"We will spend some days interviewing members of the judiciary, government functionaries, MPs and the legal community to see if there is merit in the allegations that the impeachment was part of the government's attempt to check the freedom of higher judiciary," said Verma when reached for his comments on the impending visit to Sri Lanka.
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