Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on the legality of the January 5, 2019 snap polls announced by President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday, after 13 fundamental rights petitions were filed against the dissolution of the Parliament. The decision came after the court adjourned hearing on the 13 fundamental rights petitions filed by several political parties including the United National Party (UNP), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Tamil National Alliance (TNA), All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), civil organization Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), former MP Mano Ganesan and Attorney Aruna Laksiri on November 12.
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A three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena and Justice Prasanna Jayawardene heard the petitions filed during November 12th’s hearing. The petitioners said that the President does not have the power to dissolve the Parliament under the 19th amendment of the constitution and have requested the Supreme Court to issue an order to nullify the gazette notification issued by Sirisena, wherein he dissolved the Sri Lankan Parliament, reports Colombo Page.
They further requested the apex court to suspend the January 5 snap polls until the passing of the verdict. A submission made on behalf of TNA leader R. Sampanthan on Monday noted that the gazette notification issued by Sirisena on November 9 was in violation of the Constitution while outlining that conditions under which a President can dissolve the Parliament.
According to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the first situation in which a President can order for dissolution is when a motion is passed by the Parliament with a two-thirds majority, while the other situation is when a Parliament’s term is beyond four and a half years. These arguments made by President’s Counsel K. Kanaga Eeshawaran on behalf of the TNA leader were echoed across most submissions made.
Earlier on Monday, UNP’s Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa told Colombo Page, “We firmly believe that we will receive justice and the fair play from the Supreme Court rightly since it is the most honourable place. We have a constitution. We do everything according to that. But the President dissolving the Parliament is a violation of the constitution. If the constitution is continually being violated, the country would become anarchy.”
Furthermore, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, the General Secretary of UNP remarked, “The court will determine the constitutionality of the matter we have presented. That is why we came to the court,” while reaffirming their faith in the judiciary. On November 11, Sirisena had addressed the nation while mentioning the reasons behind his decision to dissolve the Sri Lankan Parliament and hold snap elections. He noted that the horse-trading of ministers to prove a majority was his first reason to dissolve the Parliament while mentioning former Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya’s behaviour as his second reason.
Lastly, Sirisena claimed to have dissolved the Parliament to avert a physical fight between members once the Parliament reconvened on November 14. He stated, “It appeared to me that, if I allowed the Parliament to be convened on the 14th, without dissolving it, it could have brought about commotion and fights, in every city and every village would lead to very unpleasant and difficult situation for the average citizens of my beloved country.”
The Asian island-nation is currently facing a political turmoil, that was set into motion when the incumbent President sacked UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe from the post of Prime Minister. Wartime strongman and ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa was brought in place of Wickremesinghe, leading to political upheaval in the neighbouring nation.
Sirisena’s party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), later admitted to not having the votes to confirm Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister, leading to latter’s exit from SLFP. Rajapaksa, his son and several prominent political figures joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), vowing to come out victorious under the leadership of both Sirisena and Rajapaksa in the 2019 elections.
Earlier on Monday, Wickremesinghe said the UNF and other political parties will forge a new alliance to “pull the nation out of the present curse”. He also urged all political parties to join this new political force, Daily Mirror reported.
Source – TimesNowNews