Sri Lanka's highest court has declared that a parliament committee acted beyond its authority in disqualifying the country's chief justice from office.

The case against Shirani Bandaranayake, the country's first chief justice, has drawn local and international criticism as an attempt by the government to stifle the judiciary's independence.

Three Supreme Court judges said Thursday that the Parliament Select Committee that investigated Banadaranayke "has no legal power or authority to make a finding adversely affecting the legal rights of a judge."

The parliamentary committee last month found Banadaranayke guilty of unexplained wealth and misuse of power. She has denied the allegation.

Parliament is expected to vote for her impeachment when it convenes this month, and the president then could decide to dismiss or retain her.