September 19, 2019
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    Parliament cannot be dissolved for four and half years

    December 14, 2018

    The Supreme Court seven-judge-Bench headed by Chief Justice Nalin Perera yesterday unanimously ruled that the Gazette notification issued by President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve Parliament prematurely was inconsistent with the Constitution.

    Accordingly, the Supreme Court seven-judge-Bench comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Prasanna Jayawardena, Justice Vijith Malalgoda and Justice Murdu Fernando ordered to quash and render null and void the concerned proclamation published in the Gazette notification dated November 9.

    The Supreme Court also observed that fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 12(1) of the constitution have been infringed by the respondents.

    Delivering the Judgement in a jam-packed courtroom, the Chief Justice announced that the Supreme Court decided to overrule the Preliminary Objections raised by the Attorney General’s claims that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear these petitions. While agreeing with the decision taken by the Chief Justice and five other judges regarding these ten Fundamental Rights petitions, Justice Sisira de Abrew delivered a separate judgement explaining different reasons to justify his stance.

    Justice Sisira de Abrew ruled that in terms of Article 70 (1) of the Constitution, the President cannot dissolve Parliament until the expiration of the four years and six months of Parliament unless a resolution passed by Parliament with the two-thirds majority of the Parliament.

    On November 12, ten Fundamental Rights petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by several political parties and individuals seeking an Interim Order to stay the operation of President’s proclamation to dissolve Parliament which published in the Extraordinary Gazette dated November 9.

    These petitions had been filed by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan, United National Party (UNP) General Secretary Kabir Hashim, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem, All Ceylon Makkal Congress party leader Rishad Bathiudeen, R.A.S.D. Perera, Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, former MP Mano Ganeshan, Attorney-at-Law Lal Wijenayake and G.C.J. Perera.

    They sought an order quashing and rendering null and void the concerned proclamation published in the Gazette notification dated November 9.

    They sought a declaration that Fundamental Rights of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 12(1), 14(1(g) of the constitution is infringed by the respondents.

    Eight intervenient petitioners including Prof. Channa Jayasumana, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader Udaya Gammanpila and Attorney-at-Law Pramanath C. Dolawatta had filed papers seeking permission to intervene into these petitions.

    On November 13, the Supreme Court three-judge-Bench comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena and Justice Prasanna Jayawardena unanimously issued an Interim Order staying the operation of the Gazette notification issued by the President to dissolve Parliament until December 7.

    The Supreme Court further issued an interim order restraining the Election Commission from proceeding to take any steps to conduct the parliamentary election by virtue of the proclamation until December 7.

    On November 26, the Chief Justice nominated a fuller Bench comprising seven judges of Supreme Court to hear several Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions which challenged the gazette notification issued by President to dissolve Parliament. The Chief Justice nominated a fuller bench comprising Supreme Court seven-judge-Bench (Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Prasanna Jayawardena, Justice Vijith Malalgoda and Justice Murdu Fernando).

    The Attorney General, Prof. G.L. Peiris and four others, the intervenient petitioners of the Fundamental Rights petitions had sought an order in terms of the Article 132(3) of the constitution constituting a divisional bench comprising five judges or more judges of the Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice to hear these petitions.

    On December 4, the Supreme Court seven-judge-bench headed by Chief Justice Nalin Perera commenced hearing arguments into several Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the President’s decision to dissolve Parliament on November 9.

    President’s Counsel K. Kanag-iswaran appearing for Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sambanthan had submitted to Court that the primary duty of the President is to uphold the constitutional provisions by discharging his duty in accordance with the constitution.

    He argued that the President has power to dissolve Parliament in terms of Article 70(1) of the Constitution after completion of four and a half years of Parliament or a resolution to the parliament by 2/3 majority of Parliamentarians.

    The attorneys who appeared on behalf of the petitioners yesterday concluded their oral submissions and Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya will make his oral submissions today.

    On December 5, Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya raised preliminary objections regarding ten Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging dissolution of parliament by President. He informed that Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear the impugn conduct of the President (dissolution of Parliament) through a Fundamental Rights jurisdiction under Article 126 of the Constitution.

    Making his oral submissions, the Attorney General stated that the President’s duties as the head of the executive, head of the State and head of the Government cannot be challenged through Fundamental Rights jurisdiction under Article 126 of the constitution.

    On December 6, Supreme Court further extended till December 10, the Interim Order staying the operation of the Gazette notification issued by the President to dissolve Parliament.

    On December 7, the Supreme Court reserved judgment in the Fundamental Rights petitions filed by several political parties and individuals challenging the Gazette notification issued by the President to dissolve Parliament.

    Accordingly, the Supreme Court further extended the Interim Order staying the operation of the Gazette notification issued by the President to dissolve Parliament until the date of judgment to be delivered. Supreme Court also further extended the Interim Order restraining the Election Commission from proceeding to take any steps to conduct the Parliamentary Election by virtue of the proclamation until the judgment date.

    On December 7, the petitioners, respondents and intervenient petitioners concluded their submissions which were proceeded for a four-day period since December 4.

    President’s Counsel K. Kanag-Iswaran with M.A. Sumanthiran PC, Thilak Marapana PC, C.J. Weliamuna PC, Dr. Jayampathi Wickremaratne PC, Counsel H. Hizbullah, counsel Viran Corea, Counsel Suren Fernando and Manjula Balasuriya appeared for the petitioners.

    Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya PC, Solicitor General Dappula De Livera, Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva PC, Nerin Pulle DSG, Dr. Avanthi Perera SSC appeared for the Attorney General. President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana, Manohara de Silva PC, Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC, M. Ali Sabry PC and counsel Navin Marapana, Kanishka Vitharana appeared for the intervenient petitioners.

     

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