by Gagani Weerakoon
Proroguing Parliament sessions is certainly not a new thing in Sri Lanka’s history, but issuing three Gazette Notifications in a space of two weeks to summon the new session, due to previous two being incomplete or faulty indeed could be a record.
In the President’s proclamation issued on 12 April proroguing Parliament, 8 May was fixed as the date for the start of the new Parliamentary session but it failed to give a time for the sittings to commence.
Another Gazette Notification was issued on 23 April which stated that “KNOW YE that by virtue of the powers vested in me by Article 70(4) of the Chapter XI of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I, Maithripala Sirisena, President, do by this Proclamation summon Parliament to meet at the Parliament Hall, Sri Jayewardenepura, on the Eighth day of May, Two Thousand and Eighteen at 02.15pm.”
There was a mistake in this Gazette notification as the powers are vested in the President to summon Parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution and not Article 70 (4).
The latest Extraordinary Gazette amended the venue of the next Parliamentary Session from ‘Parliament Hall’ to the ‘Chamber of Parliament’.
The third Gazette was changed to read “KNOW YE that by virtue of the powers vested in me by Article 70 of the Chapter XI of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I Maithripala Sirisena, President do by this Proclamation summon Parliament to meet at the Chamber of the Parliament, Sri Jayewardenepura, on the Eighth day of May, Two Thousand and Eighteen at 02.15 p.m.”
Many criticized the officials at the Presidential Secretariat of failing to perform their responsibilities while many others noted that the whole mess is clear proof to the inability and inefficiency of the Government as a whole.
Amidst many other issues tipped to take place in the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament, selecting a Deputy Speaker will be amongst first few businesses.
In addition, the seating arrangements will be rearranged to accommodate the SLFP-group of 16 to allocate them seats in the Opposition. The request was made in writing by the group from the Parliament Secretary General.
The 16 will cross over the well of the Parliament on 8 May as planned. However, there are various discussions going on and several sources claimed that all 16 may not cross over. The talk is that at least three will remain on the Government side.
Meanwhile, it was reported that President Sirisena met the SLFP group of 16 at Grand Mountain Hotel, the first 5-star resort in Matale belonging to former Deputy Minister Lakshman Wasantha Perera. While, the details of the discussion were not officially available, the group, according to sources, have discussed at length as to what their role would be in the Opposition.
(Excerpted From The “Ceylon Politics” Column Appearing in the “Ceylon Today” of April 29th 2018)