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Sri Lanka Supreme Court summons MPs over bond probe

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has summoned members of parliament who subscribed to a committee report on the controversial Central Bank bond sale, legislators told Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Friday. JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, MP Bimal Ratnayake said he received summons from the apex court for taking part in Tuesday’s debate which saw both sides of the House trading allegations of corruption. The court had issued the notices to all MPs who were members of the Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) following a petition by UNP-affiliated Buddhist monk Thiniyawala Palitha who alleged that the committee report was replete with errors. The supreme court has fixed a hearing of the monk’s case on March 7. The government had denied it got the monk to file a court case to scuttle Tuesday’s parliamentary debate on the COPE findings by invoking the principle of sub judice. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said he was aware of the court summoning members of parliament and he would consult legal opinion and make a ruling on whether MPs should comply. Former president and Kurunegala MP Mahinda Rajapaksa cited the case of then Speaker Anura Bandaranaike rejecting a restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in 2001 and upholding the supremacy of parliament. When the assembly moved to impeach then chief justice Sarath Silva, a bench headed by Silva himself issued a restraining order preventing the legislature going ahead. In a landmark decision, Bandaranaike upheld the principle of separation of powers and made it clear that the judiciary could not interfere with the work of the legislature excluding in areas where a specific role is assigned to the supreme court in interpreting the constitution. Taking a cue from the late Bandaranaike, speaker Chamal Rajapaksa too invoked the same principle and rejected a court order in 2012 when his brother president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government sought to impeach then chief justice Shirani Bandaranayake. Bandaranayake’s impeachment was later deemed illegal and she was restored in her office by President Maithripala Sirisena who came to power in January 2015. (COLOMBO, January 27, 2017)