Breaking: Dissolution is illegal --- Sri Lanka’s Top Court

Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has delivered one of the most controversial and historic judgments ever in the history to solve the prevailing constitutional crisis in the island nation

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In its historic judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in Sri Lanka short awhile ago has ruled out the President Maithripala  Sirisena’s dissolving the Parliament and calling for a snap poll is illegal and unconstitutional.

Supreme Court bench of seven judges unanimously holds the Dissolution of the parliament to be illegal, therefore the President Sirisena’s decision is ultra vires and unconstitutional.

President Sirisena by issuing an extraordinary gazette notification dissolved the parliament and called for an early election to elect the new parliament last month. But the decision was challenged before the Supreme Court by numbers of parties through fundamental rights petitions.

Maithripala Sirisena is the seventh and current President of Sri Lanka assumed duties since January 2015. He is regarded as the architect of an ongoing constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka

The president's United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had earlier on Friday, 26 October, quit the national unity government that had governed with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's UNP.

Later at about 7:00 pm without a prior announcement, President Maithripala Sirisena unexpectedly appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister in a live swearing-in ceremony broadcast over television. Rajapaksa took an oath of office in the presence of Sirisena and representatives of the military inside the Presidential Secretariat. He was sworn in while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was still the incumbent and away touring in the south of the country.

 The situation in Colombo was uneasy with some cabinet ministers immediately declaring the move unconstitutional, while other Cabinet ministers and parliamentarians began defecting to the new government.

On 27 October President Sirisena issued a formal notice for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to step down. Sirisena later issued gazettes formalising and defending the dramatic move. Wickremesinghe however entered Temple Trees, the Prime Minister’s residence, refusing to accept the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his dismissal, insisting in a letter to Sirisena that he was still in office. Sirisena and Rajapaksa announced their intent to form a new cabinet

Later President Sirisena was announced through an extraordinary gazette notice that general elections will be held on 5 January 2019, and the first meeting of the new Parliament to be held on 17 January 2019. UPFA MP Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said "The nominations would be tendered from 9 to 26 November 2018. 

However, on 12 November, twelve Fundamental Right petitions were submitted to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka challenging the president's decree sacking parliament and calling a snap election, by the UNP, TNA, JVP, SLMC and others including Prof Ratnajeevan Hoole, a member of the ElectionCommission. Arguing that Sirisena's actions were unconstitutional, illegal and against the people of Sri Lanka, Hoole demanded the restoration of status quo prevailing prior to 26 October. Hoole's position strengthens the argument of 11other petitions.

These were taken up for hearing on the same day by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court consisting of the Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justices Prasanna Jayawardena and Priyantha Jayawardena. Three-Judge bench issued an interim order till 7 December staying the proclamation issued by President Sirisena to dissolve parliament and granted leave to proceed with the Fundamental Rights petitions that challenged the President's dissolving parliament. 

Later, the Chief Justice nominated a fuller Bench comprising seven judges of the Supreme Court to hear on 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th December, the fundamental rights petitions filed against the declaration of dissolution of Parliament by the President. 

The Bench Comprises Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira J. de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna S. Jayawardena, Vijith K. Malalgoda and Murdu Fernando.

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