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Statement by lawyers and academics on the interpretation of the Constitution

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 13 November 2018 00:42

We the undersigned, note with concern, the methods by which the Constitution of Sri Lanka is being interpreted to justify the appointment of a purported Prime Minister on 26 October, a Cabinet of Ministers and the dissolution of Parliament thereafter. 

As members of the legal profession who practice and/or teach law, we wish to recall that each of us has a responsibility to uphold the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and promote justice in carrying out our professional responsibilities. 

Making selective references to provisions of the Constitution to justify the actions and/or intended actions of the President in complete disregard of fundamental rules of constitutional interpretation is contrary to our professional ethics. It has the effect of confusing and misleading the public. The public look to professionals in forming their opinion, particularly at times such as this. 

The law as a discipline recognises that it is possible in many instances to adopt different and even contrasting interpretations. The current discussions regarding the constitutionality of the actions and intended actions of the President since the 26 October however do not involve constitutional provisions that lead to such contrasting interpretations. Even if contrasting interpretations of constitutional texts are possible, the Law requires that the interpretation that promotes the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights be adopted. 

The Constitution is not a mere document that can be interpreted at will or according to its black letter meaning. Rather, the Constitution must be interpreted within the spirit of constitutionalism, and with utmost regard to fundamental norms of a constitutional democracy. 

We owe a duty to the public to be honest in our interpretations of the Constitution and that we refer to all the relevant provisions – demonstrating professionalism, integrity and decency. Lawyers making interventions in the public domain on matters that are decisive in determining the future of Sri Lanka’s constitutional democracy, have a responsibility to bear these ethical and professional obligations in mind.   

  1. Dinusha Abeyesundere, Attorney-at-Law
  2. Mohamed Adamaly, Attorney-at-Law
  3. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, PC
  4. Shermila Antony, Attorney-at-Law
  5. Kaushalya Ariyarathne, Attorney-at-Law
  6. Vijula Arulanantham, Attorney-at-Law
  7. Sarah Arumugam, Attorney-at-Law
  8. Nirosha Babapulle, Attorney-at-Law
  9. Prasansani Bandaranayake, Attorney-at-Law
  10. S A Beling, Attorney-at-Law
  11. Viran Corea, Attorney-at-Law
  12. Dr Sunil Cooray, Attorney-at-Law
  13. Johann Corera, Attorney-at-Law
  14. Shalomi Daniel, Attorney-at-Law
  15. Shiloma David, Attorney-at-Law
  16. Chanaka de Silva, Attorney-at-Law
  17. Rhadeena de Alwis, Attorney-at-Law
  18. Sarita de Fonseka, Attorney-at-Law
  19. Rohan Dunuwille, Attorney-at-Law
  20. Ameer Faaiz, Attorney-at-Law
  21. Inshira Faliq, Attorney-at-Law
  22. Bhavani Fonseka, Attorney-at-Law
  23. B Gowthaman, Attorney-at-Law
  24. Luwie Ganeshathasan, Attorney-at-Law
  25. Lasantha Y Garusinghe, Attorney-at-Law
  26. C Ranitha Gnanarajah, Attorney-at-Law
  27. Sankhitha Gunaratne, Attorney-at-Law
  28. Radika Gunaratne, Attorney-at-Law
  29. Gehan Gunatilleke, Attorney-at-Law
  30. MAM Hakeem, Attorney-at-Law
  31. Lakmali Hemachandra, Attorney-at-Law
  32. Roshaan Hettiaratchi, Attorney-at-Law
  33. Mokshini Jayamanne, Attorney-at-Law
  34. Uween Jayasinha, Attorney-at-Law
  35. Pamoda Jayasundera, Attorney-at-Law
  36. Kishani Jayasooriya, Attorney-at-Law
  37. Shamalie Jayatunge, Attorney-at-Law
  38. Priyadarsheni Jesudason
  39. Azra Jiffry, Attorney-at-Law
  40. Diloka Kamalgoda, Attorney-at-Law
  41. Upul Kumarapperuma, Attorney-at-Law
  42. Javed Mansoor, Attorney-at-Law
  43. Rasika Mendis, Attorney-at-Law
  44. Vidya Nathaniel, Attorney-at-Law 
  45. Harindi Palkumbura, Attorney-at-Law
  46. Ruvini Perera, Attorney-at-Law
  47. Champika Perera, Attorney-at-Law
  48. Binendri Perera, Attorney-at-Law
  49. Thiagi Piyadasa, Attorney-at-Law
  50. Sanjayan Rajasingham, Attorney-at-Law
  51. Dhanushka Rajaratnam, Attorney-at-Law
  52. Nirusha Ranjitkumar Ratnatunga, Attorney-at-Law
  53. Shalini Samarakkody, Attorney-at-Law
  54. Aruna Samarajewa, Attorney-at-Law
  55. Dr Dinesha Samararatne, Attorney-at-Law
  56. Dr Kalana Senaratne
  57. Harindi Seneviratne, Attorney-at-Law
  58. Sharya Scharenguivel (Former Professor of Law)
  59. Ermiza Tegal, Attorney-at-Law
  60. Sushmitha Thayanandan, Attorney-at-Law
  61. Romali Tudawe, Attorney-at-Law
  62. S Hamsakanambiha Vamadeva, Attorney-at-Law
  63. Deanne Uyangoda, Attorney-at-Law
  64. JC Weliamuna PC
  65. Dr Asanga Welikala
  66. Subhashini Weerakkody, Attorney-at-Law
  67. Thishya Weragoda, Attorney-at-Law
  68. Thalatha Wcikramasinghe, Attorney-at-Law
  69. Dr Aritha Wikramanayake, Attorney-at-Law
  70. Khyati Wikramanayake, Attorney-at-Law
  71. Eric D Wikramanayake, Attorney-at-Law
  72. Pubudini Wickramaratne, Attorney-at-Law
  73. Nishadi Wickremasinghe, Attorney-at-Law
  74. Shanil Wijesinha, Attorney-at-Law
  75. V. Yogeswaran, Attorney-at-Law


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