The Court of Appeal yesterday commenced hearing into the writ petition filed by United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and 121 other Parliamentarians.
They sought an order in the nature of Quo Warranto declaring that Mahinda Rajapaksa is not entitled to hold the office of Prime Minister and the matter was fixed for further support on Monday (December 3).
When the petition came up before Court of Appeal President, Justice Preethi Padman Surasena and Justice Arjuna Obeysekara, the Defence Counsel appearing on behalf of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and other respondent parties raised preliminary objections against the writ petition. They moved Court of Appeal that the petition be dismissed in limine.
President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana with Counsel Navin Marapana appearing on behalf of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa informed that Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to hear this case until the Supreme Court makes a determination regarding several Fundamental Rights petitions regarding the dissolution of Parliament.
He further submitted to Court, Parliamentary proceedings including the No Confidence Motion were commenced at the time several FR petitions are being heard before the Supreme Court. “What will happen if the Supreme Court determined the President’s decision to dissolve Parliament was valid. If it happened, all Parliament proceedings up to now would be null and void,’President’s Counsel Marapana observed.
In reply, President’s Counsel K. Kanag-iswaran and Counsel Suren Fernando appearing for UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that the petition before this court is nothing to do with dissolution of Parliament. They contended that the Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to issue an order in the nature of Quo Warranto in terms of Article 140 of the Constitution.
“The Supreme Court will look into the matter relating to the dissolution of Parliament. The resolution for the No Confidence Motion was passed in a duly summoned Parliament,” President’s Counsel Kanag-iswaran added.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for Minister Udaya Gammanpila informed Court that the Court of Appeal does not have the jurisdiction to hear this matter since it relates with the Parliamentary affairs. He further argued that this application cannot be maintained since the President and the Speaker have not been made as parties.
‘The Speaker never said motion for the No Confidence Motion was carried. What transpired in Parliament can be examined through the video footage officially released by Parliament website. A Quo Warranto cannot be issued based on the uncorrected version of Parliament proceedings (Hansard reports).
Silva further stated that the court has to consider the consequences of an Interim Order prior to grant it as requested by petitioners. If court issues an Interim Order, country would be in anarchy. There will be no Prime Minister or Cabinet of Ministers to govern the country,’ Silva added.
Meanwhile, Gamini Marapana PC further submitted to court that there is no ex-facia No Confidence Motion duly passed in Parliament since it was passed using voice vote while standing orders being suspended. President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena and Manohara de Silva PC were also made their oral submissions against the writ petition.
In this petition, the petitioners further sought an order in the nature of Quo Warranto declaring that 49 respondents including the Prime Minister and the Ministers of the incumbent government are not entitled to hold the office of ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
The petitioners, the Members of Parliamentarians representing the United National Party, Tamil National Alliance, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and several other parties filed this petition naming 49 persons including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, members of cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers as respondents.
The petitioners stated that on November 14, 2018, Parliament passed a vote of no-confidence against the purported government of the Respondents. They further stated that on November 16, Parliament passed another Vote of No-Confidence against the Government. They maintained that in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution, the Cabinet stood dissolved from November 14, 2018.