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Judicial tension rises in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s highest court declared Thursday that a parliamentary committee does not have legal power to investigate allegations of misuse of power and unexplained wealth by the country’s chief justice, escalating a showdown between the legislature and the judiciary.

The case against Shirani Bandaranayake, the country’s first female chief justice, has drawn local and international criticism as an attempt by the government to stifle judiciary independence. On Thursday, three Supreme Court judges ruled the Parliament Select Committee ‘‘has no legal power or authority to make a finding adversely affecting the legal rights of a judge.’’

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Last month, a parliamentary committee found Banadaranayke guilty of unexplained wealth and misuse of power and said she was unfit for office. Parliament is expected to vote for her impeachment this month, and the president then could decide to dismiss or retain her.

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