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Sri Lanka: Petitions against President --- Court hearing resumes

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( November 13, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Court proceeding in Supreme Court on the President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the Parliament was resumed before same judges at 10 am in Colombo time. Attorney General takes up the position that Article 33 of the Constitution in Sri Lanka must be read as operating in isolation of Article 70(1)

AG Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC suggested that President is vested with 'plenary executive power' not restrained by Art 70.

Meanwhile, in responding, AG denies that his opinion is meant to favour the President, though he admits that he has got instructions from President Sirisena.

Sanjeeva Jayawardena PC, appearing for GL Peiris says;

1. The dissolution ex facie within the Presidents power
2. There is no co-relation between Article 33 and Article 70
3. Article 62(2) gives power to the President to dissolve Parliament 4.reasonableness of the dissolution

He further says even if the SC feels there is a violation, the court has the discretion not to grant the interim relief asked for, as this is an FR case.

Gamini Marapana PC, states that Article 70(1) for the first time introduced parliamentary driven process to dissolve Parliament. Article 33(2) (c) is a stand-alone provision to be read with Article 62(2) giving the President power to dissolve Parliament.

Ali Sabry PC, intervening says there is one President & two Prime Ministers in Sri Lanka. Admits that if the prorogation is held unconstitutional then subsequent action is invalid.

Manohara de Silva PC appearing for MP Udaya Gammanpila says the President should be able to act against Parliament if he feels it's going against the country because he's elected by the people.

Lawyer Gomin Dayasiri intervening says that he argued against the 19th A in 2015 but it was passed, almost unanimously. The President is now duty-bound to act in accordance with it, and the dissolution before four and half years without parliament resolution is unconstitutional.

Replying the intervenients Mr K Kanag-Isvaran PC quotes the speech made by GL Peiris in Parliament in 2015 in which he says that Parliament cannot be dissolved unilaterally for 4.5 yrs. Peiris now intervenes in support of the dissolution.

He further states that provision of the Constitution cannot be read alone and Article 33 is not a stand-alone provision. This argument is an argument of convenience and should not be permitted.

In reply, Sumanthiran PC says that Articles 70 and 33(2) cannot be de-linked as was suggested by intervenients. These articles are intrinsically connected and any interpretation suggesting otherwise is rash and can lead to dire consequences.

In reply, Viran Corea states that the submission by the AG that the President's power to dissolve under Art 33 unrestrained by Art 70, destroys meaningfulness of a vote to elect Parliament and threatens rule of law.

He further states that both President and Parliament derive power from franchise. So depriving the latter by the former contrary to Art 70 defeats franchise. Unless interim relief is granted by the SC forthwith, this whole hearing would be rendered useless.

All counsel concluded their submissions. Court adjourned. Court will resume at 5pm in Colombo time.

Click here to read a brief roundup of yesterday's hearing

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