The move to impeach the Chief Justice was carried out constitutionally, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Saturday.
“During the entire process, the government never deviated from the constitution. We also did not try to bring new laws as some had suggested to punish wrongdoers,” the President said. He was speaking at a ceremony organised by the Sri Lanka Freedom Graduates Association (SLFGA) to mark the occasion of nearly 51,000 graduate trainees being absorbed to the state sector permanent cadre.
The event, with the participation of over 50,000 graduates, was held at the Sugathadasa stadium.
Speaking on the impeachment issue, President Rajapaksa said that information regarding misconduct had first come from within the legal fraternity itself and later evidence to prove charges had emerged.
He said as a move to clear his conscience further, he consulted several experts in the legal and banking fields regarding the evidence concerned.
The President said views of an eminent professor domiciled in Australia too had been sought.
“This professor is of high repute and has written several books on law which are acclaimed internationally. He also taught me at the Law College in addition to being the teacher of people like Minister Prof G L Peiris and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe,” the President said.
He said the government had an obligation and always believed that wrongdoers should be punished irrespective of their status.
President Rajapaksa said the government at all times was committed to safeguard the independence and dignity of the judiciary and said that however it was unfortunate to note certain elements engaging in acts to tarnish the image of the judiciary.
The President said even at times when the judiciary went against government policies and the Chief Justice gave decisions which put it into difficulty, the government acted in a very responsible and dignified manner and never resorted to undermine the judiciary.
“We never used the court premises for political activities and never made it a picketing roundabout or asked our supporters to put up black flags,” President Rajapaksa said.
He said however now some elements were using the hallowed premises for such acts which in turn would demean the dignity and respect of the judiciary.
The President said these were done on the instigation of some non-governmental organisations and petty political groups.
He said it was the responsibility of all to safeguard the respect and dignity of the judiciary and added that he hoped everyone, irrespective of differences will come to the same conclusion.
The President also told the graduates that at a time when the country was on the path of economic prosperity and achieving all-round development, there were elements trying to derail such achievements through conspiracies.
He urged the new entrants to the state sector permanent cadre to be alert to such acts and not to be misled by such unscrupulous elements.
President Rajapaksa urged them to work wisely with commitment and dedication to build a prosperous and disciplined country.
The President who also spoke about government efforts to strengthen the state sector, said since he took over office, the number of employees in the sector had doubled.
He said in developed countries the state sector was kept at around 2.5 to 3.0 percent but in Sri Lanka, it exceeded 12 percent.
“In 2005, the total state sector salaries amounted to Rs139 billion but it has gone up to Rs 366 billion now,” he said. “Whatever the burden to sustain the state sector the government will never curtail recruitment to the sate service.”
He assured that all graduates recruited to the state sector will be made permanent.
Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, W D J Seneviratne and Maithripala Sirisena also spoke.