By Chitra Weerarathne
Former Chief Justice, Sarath Nanda Silva, yesterday, appeared in person to obtain leave to proceed with the fundamental rights violation petition he had filed, citing the Attorney General, as the first respondent.
The petitioner has informed the Supreme Court, that amendments were added to the Provincial Councils Election (Amendment) Act, at the committees stage of the Parliament. Those amendments were not in the Bill Gazetted by the government. The people could not challenge those amendments in the Supreme Court. The procedure was bad in law.
The petitioner has said that according to Article (3) of the constitution of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the people.
That was inalienable. The mode of passing of Bills was prescribed by the Constitution. The ratificaton of the PC polls Bill was not in conformity of that procedure. The Speaker’s certification was not published anywhere. Not even in a newspaper. The Bill was full of errors.
The Attorney General has misled Parliament and the Speaker, the former CJ has argued. In this petition, he has challenged the opinion given by the Attorney General to the Speaker. By the new amendments, the Bill ceased to exist. In the Bill there was room for thirty percent of females candidates. All that was struck off by amendments added at the committee stage of parliament. The procedure adopted was ultra vires. The procedure was arbitrary and violated people’s franchise, Sarath Nanda Silva PC contended.
Additional Solicitor General, Sanjaya Rajaratnam, P.C., appeared for the Attorney General and submitted preliminary objections to the petition. He said although the petition was said to be over violation of fundamental rights, Article 126 had not been included in the title of the petition.
The Bill was passed in Parliament on September 22, 2017. The petition had been filed on September 28, 2017. Article 18/2, Article 121, 122, 124, explain that Parliamentary procedure could not be challenged in any court. Article 67 also prescribed that Parliament was privileged.
The petitioner had not stated that the Bill was passed in Parliament on September 22. He had filed his rights violation petition on September 28, President’s Counsel Rajaratnam said
The ASG said that the petition should be dismissed in limine.
There have been several intervenient petitions filed on parliamentary privileges and against the maintainability of the petition. There was one intervention in support of the petition. These intervenient petitions will be heard on October 19.
The bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasarth Dep, Justice Beuwaneka Aluwihara and Justice Nalin Perera.