Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court today ruled in a landmark judgement that President Maithripala Sirisena’s Gazetted decision to dissolve Parliament and hold snap elections was unconstitutional and unlawful.
Chief Justice Nalin Perera delivering the verdict said that if the President wants to dissolve Parliament before four and half years, as stipulated by the Constitution there should be a resolution passed by two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The verdict was announced unanimously with all seven Judges agreeing. One Judge however gave different reasons for his opinion.
The seven Judge Bench of the Supreme Court which heard the cases comprised Chief Justice Nalin Perera and Justices Prasanna Jayaweardena, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Murdhu Fernando, Buvaneka Aluvihare and Vijitha Malalgoda.
Sri Lanka’s highest court has by this decision overturned the dissolution of Parliament and halted a general election thereby confirming an earlier interim order and delivering a blow to President Maithripala Sirisena in the ongoing political crisis.
Chief Justice Nalin Perera delivered the judgment. The decision was unanimous with five judges concurring with reasons presented by the Chief Justice. but one judge delivering his ruling giving different reasons for arriving at his decision. However the final ruling of the seven judges was unanimous.
The court said the dissolution was unconstitutional and the President’s proclamation was null and void.
Court also decided that the petitioners fundamental right, under article 12(1) has been violated by this executive act.
Thirteen Fundamental Rights petitions were filed at the Supreme Court by political parties, and other individuals including a member of the Elections Commission challenging the Gazette notification issued by the President.
The case had been fixed for argument on December 5th, 6th and 7th, 2018.
Although it was earlier expected the decision by the Supreme Court will be announced on the 07th, it was later postponed indefinitely.
The whole country has been waiting with bated breath for the verdict of the apex court.
Intermediate petitions were filed by Prof. G.L.Peiris, Prof. Channa Jayasumana, Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dr. Tissa Vitarana, Dr. Jagath Wellawatte, Dr.Sisira Sena De Silva, Minister Udaya Gammanpila and Attorney-at-Law Premanath Dolawatte claiming President’s order is constitutional.
The Supreme Court On December 4, commenced hearing of the petitions challenging the Gazette notification issued by the President to dissolve Parliament
Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya making his submissions during the hearings stated that the President’s order to dissolve parliament was Constitutional.
The Attorney General stated the President has power to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament in terms of Article 33 (2) (C) of the Constitution. The Proclamation has been made by President using Constitutional powers to exercise people’s franchise rights.
The Supreme Court deivered the historic ruling at 4 .20 PM on Thursday December 13rd.
Sri Lanka’s United National Party officials said they expected the President to appoint Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister after the ruling.
President Sirisena has been refusing to appoint Wickremesinghe as PM, despite 117 legislators voting to support him and Rajapaksa suffering multiple no confidence motions.
President Maithripala Sirisena appointed ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister on October 26 replacing incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe in a contested move, plunging Sri Lanka into an economic and political crisis which was separately challenged in court.
Rajapaksa however failed to gather a 113 majority to show the confidence of parliament. President Sirisena said in a video interview, Rajapaksa was unable to buy over enough legislators as the cost rose to as much 500 million rupees apiece.
President Sirisena then dissolved parliament and called for fresh elections. The Supreme Court issued an interim order which suspended the decisions pending a final order.
Sri Lanka’s court of appeal has separately suspended Rajapaksa from acting as PM. The Supreme Court is to take up the case on Friday Dec 14th