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Best to Hope for in President Appointed “Independent”Committee is “dependent Independence”

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by Dr. U. Pethiyagoda

In a healthy state of governance, the three pillars, the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary should exist in a state of interdependence, cordiality and mutual respect.

That it is not so is clearly evident. Subsequent to the PSC Report to the Speaker of Parliament, the President has intervened to declare that he will appoint an “independent” Committee to examine the PSC Report.

This will be done, he explains, after (repeat after) Parliament acts on the PSC Report.

There is no good reason to doubt that the President is honest and genuine in ensuring a fair outcome from the process of impeachment of the CJ.

However, one could foresee a problem due to a lack of clarity regarding the positioning of the presidency. Unique it may be, but not omnipotent. Therefore, it has to be positioned somewhere within one of the three pillars. Not being Royalty, it is Legislative and in level with the other two pillars. The authority over the other two pillars is lateral and not vertical.

By the unfortunate use of the term “Executive” to qualify the title, I believe there is an inherent ambiguity and some effort made to place him at the head of the Executive. This is clearly wrong. The Executive which “does” things of day to day governance is the Administration, the head of which is the Secretary to the Treasury, in our structure. The President heads the Legislature, over which he clearly exercises control by calling elections, In the selection of candidates, in the apportioning of Ministries, in canvassing for Party elections, including his own and by remaining head of the SLFP. He is clearly a legislator.

If this situation is not cleared within the month, there will still be debate on the status of his “independent committee” (if such is possible, in this age where “loyalty” is a declared premium),So, the best to be hoped for is a “Dependent Independence”. Questions in relation to the supremacy of Parliament, Sovereignty of the “people” and so on will remain and the process will therefore never end, with several probably (excepting the President?) rubbing their hands in glee at the engineered stalemate. This will be about as useful to justice and fair-play as a Post-mortem would be to the bereaved!. Is there anything we the citizens could do to prevent being taken for suckers!

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