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SC extends interim order halting Gazette on P’ment dissolution

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  • PC Sanjeeva Jayawardena says petitions to remove President’s parliamentary dissolution power seek to cannibalise Constitution 

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court yesterday extended the interim order suspending the Gazette on the dissolution of Parliament till Saturday with further hearings scheduled today.

President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena, appearing for intervenient petitioner Prof. G.L. Peiris of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), told a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court deliberating over fundamental rights petitions filed against the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena that the petitioners were seeking to distort the Constitution by virtually cannibalising it and taking away checks and balances by removing the President’s power to dissolve Parliament...

Ten fundamental rights petitions against the President’s declaration to dissolve Parliament came up before the bench comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera and Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira J. de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna S. Jayawardena, Vijith K. Malalgoda and Murdu Fernando. Five petitions have sought to intervene to counter the main petitions. The Supreme Court extended the interim order suspending the Gazette on the dissolution Parliament until 8 December.

President’s Counsel Jayawardena said the petitioners were merely invoking a proviso and ignoring the main substantive Articles 62(2) and 33(2)(C ) of the Constitution which go to substantiate the President’s power to dissolve Parliament.

The petitioners have wrongfully advocated the cannibalisation of the Constitution, virtually extracting the President’s teeth of power, and engaged in a process of a surgical transplant of a mere proviso in a completely different chapter of the Constitution and have transposed that proviso artificially to a different chapter of the Constitution, he said.

He stated that it also makes a mockery of the sovereign right of the people vested in the President to use the process of dissolution when required to implement checks and balances on Parliament. 

This is important in a situation where there is a complete breakdown of parliamentary function as well as an irresolvable impasse and total breakdown of governance which ultimately affects the people of the country and constituency, he added.

The only way to resolve the crisis is to re-impose the franchise of the people by directing that a General Election be conducted to ensure governance, he said. He stated that otherwise it would be the people and not the politicians who would ultimately be affected and made to suffer as a result of a breakdown in governance.

The fundamental rights petitioners are seeking a declaration that the dissolution of Parliament infringes fundamental rights. They are asking Court to declare that the directions in the proclamation are null, ineffective from the beginning and have no force or effect in the law.

The petitions were filed by MPs Kabir Hashim and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam of the UNP, Lal Wijenayeke of the United Left Front, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Election Commission Member Prof. Ratnajeevan. H. Hoole, Attorney-at-Law G.C.T. Perera, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the All Ceylon Makkal Congress and MP Mano Ganesan.

K. Kanag Iswaran PC, Thilak Marapana PC, Dr. Jayampathi Wickremaratne PC, M.A. Sumanthiran PC, Viran Corea, Ikram Mohamed PC, J.C. Weliamuna PC, Ronald Perera PC, Hisbullah Hijaz and Suren Fernando appeared for the petitioners.

Gamini Marapane PC with Nalin Marapane, Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC and Ali Sabry PC appeared for the intervenient petitioners opposing the main petitions. Hearings on the petitions will continue tomorrow.

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