SC upholds Preliminary Objections; dismisses FR petition

Saturday, 18 February 2017 02:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

PM’s request for Speaker’s ruling on SC pronouncements

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court yesterday (17) upheld the Preliminary Objections raised by the Attorney General and the Counsel for the Prime Minister on the maintainability of the rights petition challenging the purported request made by the Prime Minister for the Speaker’s Ruling on certain Supreme Court pronouncements in the Singarasa Case.

The Bench comprising Justices Priyasath Dep, Upaly Abeyrathne and Anil Gooneratne dismissed without cost the petition filed by public litigation activist lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku.

The objections were raised that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine this application under Article 126 of the Constitution for the following reasons:

(1) The statements made by the Prime Minister in Parliament as Prime Minister is not executive or administrative action within the meaning of Article 126;

(2) These proceedings are barred by the Provisions of Section 3 of the Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act No. 21 of 1953.

The Prime Minister has purportedly requested the Speaker for his ruling on certain pronouncements in the impugned Supreme Court Judgment (SC/SPL/LA/182/99) popularly known as the Singarasa case, decided on 15 December 2006.

The Petitioner filed his petition seeking the Court that the statement made by the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe be declared as absolutely wrong and that neither he nor the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya have any right to intervene in the judicial system of the country.

He contended the Speaker exercises legislative power in Parliament on behalf of the people and he has nothing to do with the judicial system and therefore the Court proceedings with Parliament should be immediately stopped.

If a ruling will be allowed to be made by the Speaker of Parliament regarding the Singarasa case it shall be a clear violation of Article 03 of the Constitution which clearly states that the elected or appointed representatives, including the PM and the Speaker, have undertaken to honour with their Constitutional Oath assuring freedom, equality, justice, fundamental human rights and the independence of the Judiciary, the essential characteristics of a representative democracy that they have undertaken to preserve, he maintained.

The Petitioner stated the statement of the Prime Minister and the action proposed by him, becomes a direct violation of the inalienable sovereign rights of the people, enshrined under Article 3 of the Constitution.

The Petitioner further said failing to prevent the course of action demanded by the Prime Minister, it shall be a breach of the Petitioner’s Fundamental Rights and rights of the other citizenry of the Republic guaranteed by the Article 12(1) of the Constitution.

The Prime Minister had purportedly said in Parliament that the Government reconfirms the continued validity and applicability of the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and is firmly committed to implement its provisions.

He had remarked that these Supreme Court’s pronouncements denying constitutional competence of the President to accede the Optional Protocol of the ICCPR are obiter dicta (an incidental or passing remark, opinion, etc.) being unnecessary for the determination of the Singarasa application and do not serve as binding authority on the relevant question.

President’s Counsel K.Kanag Iswaran with Suren Fernando, Niranjan Arulpragasam and Aslesha Weerasekera instructed by G.G.Arulpragasam appeared for the Prime Minister. Senior Deputy Solicitor General Viraj Dayaratne appeared for the Attorney General.

The Supreme Court had already dismissed a similar petition filed by Attorney-at-Law N.Dharshana Weraduwage on the preliminary objections raised by the Respondents on the maintainability of his petition.