SC dismisses FR petition disputing singing of National Anthem in Tamil

Saturday, 19 November 2016 00:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court yesterday (18) refused to grant leave to proceed with the petition challenging the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil.

The Bench comprised Justices Priyasath Dep and K.T. Chitrasiri and Prasanna S. Jayawardane.

Petitioners V.S. Sudath Perera, Pradeep Asiri Soysa and G.A.D. Premarathna cited President Maithripala Sirisena and the Attorney General as Respondents.

Petitioners stated they became aware that the national anthem was sung in Tamil language at the Independence Day official celebration on 4 February.

They stated the issue as to whether the National Anthem should be sung only in Sinhala language and/or in the Sinhala words contained in the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution arose in view of the fact that the National Anthem was sung in the Tamil language.

 They claimed that the said song in Tamil is a gross violation of Article 7 of the Constitution and the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil language is arbitrary and capricious and cross violation of the equality principle and violation of their right as well as other citizens.

They lamented that the commencing of the words of the National Anthem was “Namo Namo Matha” which was substituted with the words “Sri Lanka Matha”.

Meanwhile two intervenient petitions were also filed by Ven. Gonagala Gnanaloka Thero of Anuradhapura Sri Sugathamaha Viharaya and the Centre for Policy Alternatives challenging the rights petition.

They maintained that the Constitution does not stipulate that the National Anthem can only be sung in the Sinhala language and state that Article 18 and 19 of the Constitution clearly and unambiguously provides that Sinhala and Tamil shall be the official and national languages of Sri Lanka.

They stated the translation of the text to English can be provided as “the National Anthem of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be ‘Sri Lanka Thaaye’, the words and music of which are set out in the 3rd Schedule.

They claimed the words and music of the National Anthem in the Tamil language is constitutionally recognised by Article 7 read with the 3rd Schedule of the Tamil version of the Constitution.

They contended that the Constitution does not provide for the Sinhala language to supersede the Tamil language, in fact the Constitutional provisions recognise the parity of status of the Sinhala and Tamil language.

They summed up that there is no inconsistency between the Constitution and the decision to sing National Anthem in Tamil.

 Manohara de Silva PC appeared for the Petitioners. Instructed by Moahan Balendra, Viran Corea appeared for Intervenient CPA and Suren Fernando and Pulasthi Hewamanna appeared for the Intervenient Ven. Gonagala Gnanaloka Thero. Deputy Solicitor General Viraj Dayaratne appeared for the Attorney General.