UNP mulling action against Speaker?

Monday, 21 January 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Dharisha Bastians

The main Opposition United National Party may contemplate action against Speaker of Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa for his ruling on 11 January when the party’s Working Committee meets today, Daily FT learns. Some members of the Party’s Parliamentary group are expected to raise the issue during the meeting, which they say further de-legitimises the removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake from office.

Just minutes before the vote was taken on the impeachment on 11 January, Opposition parties charged that the address of Parliament for presentation to the President had not been included in the Order Paper for the day.

The order paper only contained a motion of impeachment containing the 14 charges that had been previously tabled in Parliament on 6 November. Opposition MPs said that the motion of impeachment only meant that the Speaker would have to appoint a select committee – for the second time – to look into the charges contained in the motion.

Speaker Rajapaksa after suspending sittings for nearly half an hour, returned with the ruling that the motion was sufficient for a vote to be taken. Opposition parties have cried foul over the determination that they say is a violation of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

Parliament never voted on an address to the President calling for the removal of the Chief Justice, UNP MP and Head of the Party’s Communications Division, Mangala Samaraweera told Daily FT. “We voted on the impeachment motion the Government tabled in November. Parliament has already acted on that. The address to the President would have been a different thing,” he said.

Standing Order 78A Section 7 pertaining to the impeachment procedure against a judge stipulates that a resolution for the presentation of an address to the President must be passed by Parliament for the Speaker to present the address to the President on behalf of the legislature. A decision on how to proceed in the matter will have to be made by the Working Committee, party insiders said.