Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court Monday expanded the bench that will hear the petition against the dissolution of parliament, but left out controversial justice Eva Wanasundara.
Chief Justice Nalin Perera constituted a seven-judge bench to hear the petition that could end the power struggle between a hostile president and a rebellious parliament.
A three-judge bench headed by Perera himself had granted interim relief by staying the dissolution of parliament ordered by President Maithripala Sirisena on November 9. Parliament was restored in a November 13 judgment.
The following day the legislature passed a no confidence motion against the purported prime minister. The following day, November 15, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya declared that Sri Lanka no longer had a legitimate government.
Mahinda Rajapaksa refuses to give up his disputed position of prime minister while sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe also claims he is still in office.
The Supreme court bench comprises Chief Justice, Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira J de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna S. Jayawardena, Vijith Kumara Malalgoda, and Murdu Fernando.
Three of the judges on the seven-judge bench have recused themselves from hearing cases against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
They are Buwaneka Aluwihare, Priyantha Jayawardena and Murdu Fernando. However, at the outset of the latest case, Priyantha Jayawardena agreed with the other two judges in that bench, including the Chief Justice, to grant interim relief and restore parliament.
Should the court uphold the petition and declare that Sirisena’s November 9 sacking of parliament was unconstitutional, the president may be forced to accept the outcome of two no-confidence motions against the purported government of Mahinda Rajapaksa and restore the status quo prior to October 26.
On the other hand, if the court agrees with the sacking, the resolutions after October 26 would have no force in law and Sirisena can have a parliamentary election whenever he wishes, but before his term in office ends by January 2020.