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Constitution empowers President to dissolve Parliament: Sanjeewa Jayawardena

Supreme Court of Sri Lanka 700 01

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena has pleaded that President could dissolve Parliament under Article 62/2 despite the 19th Amendment.

He was making submissions before the Supreme Court in support of an intervenient petition in support of the dissolution of Parliament by the President.

He argued that Article 62/2 referred to dissolution of Parliament by President before the prescribed period. Despite the 19th Amendment to the Constitution the Article 62/2 was effective. President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2000 had dissolved Parliament under the Parliamentary Election Ordinance and fixed the date for summoning under Article 70/5 Section 10/2 of the Parliamentary Elections Act. President should make only an order in the gazette. When dissolution was premature, Section 10 of Parliamentary Election Ordinance, could be made use of.

He further submitted that Article 125 stated that the Supreme Court could interpret the Constitution, but could not transplant a view. Article 70 was on the legislative power of the people exercised by the Parliament. The executive power of the people should not be rendered impotent. If President dissolved parliament prematurely, under Article 62/2, he resorted to Article 70/5/b to set the date of the poll.

He continued that the petitioners were merely invoking a proviso and ignoring the main substantive Articles 62(2) and 33(2)(C ) of the Constitution which go to substantiate the President’s power to dissolve Parliament. The petitioners have wrongfully advocated the cannibalisation of the Constitution, virtually extracting the President’s teeth of power, and engaged in a process of a surgical transplant of a mere proviso in a completely different chapter of the Constitution and have transposed that proviso artificially to a different chapter of the Constitution.

He went on that it also makes a mockery of the sovereign right of the people vested in the President to use the process of dissolution when required to implement checks and balances on Parliament. This is important in a situation where there is a complete breakdown of parliamentary function as well as an irresolvable impasse and total breakdown of governance which ultimately affects the people of the country and constituency.

He concluded that the only way to resolve the crisis is to re-impose the franchise of the people by directing that a General Election be conducted to ensure governance, he said. He stated that otherwise it would be the people and not the politicians who would ultimately be affected and made to suffer as a result of a breakdown in governance.

The petitions were filed by MPs Kabir Hashim and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam of the UNP, Lal Wijenayeke of the United Left Front, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Election Commission Member Prof. Ratnajeevan. H. Hoole, Attorney-at-Law G.C.T. Perera, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the All Ceylon Makkal Congress and MP Mano Ganesan.

K. Kanag Iswaran PC, Thilak Marapana PC, Dr. Jayampathi Wickremaratne PC, M.A. Sumanthiran PC, Viran Corea, Ikram Mohamed PC, J.C. Weliamuna PC, Ronald Perera PC, Hisbullah Hijaz and Suren Fernando appeared for the petitioners.

Gamini Marapane PC with Nalin Marapane, Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC and Ali Sabry PC appeared for the intervenient petitioners opposing the main petitions.

The bench comprised Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira De Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardene, Justice Prasanna Jayawardena, Justice Vijith Malalgoda and Justice Murdhu Fernando.

 

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