Sri Lanka parliament to stay open till judgement; no date yet
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has extended a stay order on a contested dissolution of parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena, until judgment is delivered, after submissions by the petititioners and respondents concluded on Friday.
Chief Justice Nalin de Silva said the judgement would be delivered as soon as possible.
Eearlier in the day counsel for petitioners in counter submissions quoted jurist B R Ambedkar, who was a key architect of the Indian constitution who warned that there will be attempts to mis-use it in the future.
Kanag-Ivaran, President Counsel recalled the Ambedkar’s words "….if things go wrong under the new Constitution the reason will not be that we had a bad Constitution. What we will have to say is that Man was vile."
He was giving counter submissions to the arguments of petitioners and intervening petitioners.
Counsel Viran Corea said that the parliament is not a book of mysteries or riddles, but for the most part a common sense vehicle on which the rule of law resides.
As with any safe vehicle, when the front brake is pressed the whole vehicle stops. The article 70 (1) giving the 4.5 year limit on dissolution provides the brake on the President’s power.
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court had reversed the dissolution until the completion of the hearing which is now on its fourth day.
Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis on October 26, after President Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister in a disputed move.
After Rajapaksa was unable to muster a parliamentary majority, President Sirisena dissolved parliament despite an amendment to the constitution which barred him from dissolving it until the lapse of 4.5 years.
Intervening petitioners said that Sri Lanka does not have a Westminister system and therefore a Prime Minister need not have a majority.
There were also debates on the Sinhala and English translations of the 19th amendment.
Counsel M A Sumanthiran noted that the Tamil and English versions had no ambiguity.
Respondents had argued that there were flaws in the constitutional amendment or conflicts with other provisions. There were also arguments that the President had executive power to dissolve and going for elections.