By S. S. Selvanayagam
In a landmark judgement, a seven-judge Bench of the Supreme Court yesterday unanimously ruled that the Gazette dissolving Parliament, issued by President Maithripala Sirisena on 9 November, was unconstitutional, and Parliament cannot be dissolved until four and a half out of its five year term is completed.
In the much-awaited judgment, running to 87 pages, the Supreme Court also quashed the Gazette notification.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera and Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira J. de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardana, Prasanna Jayawardena, Vijith K. Malalgoda, and Murdu Fernando, also ruled that the said Proclamation is null and void and has no force or effect in law. Thirteen Fundamental Rights Petitions were filed against the dissolution of Parliament by the President, while eight Petitions were filed to oppose.
The Petitions were filed after the President moved to dissolve Parliament on 9 November, after he removed sitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on 26 October and appointed MP Mahinda Rajapaksa instead. Following litigation by MPs, political parties and civil society, a three-member Supreme Court Bench on 13 November issued a Stay Order against the Gazette dissolving Parliament.
Petitioners sought a declaration from the Court that the impugned Declaration of dissolution of Parliament by the President infringes fundamental rights.
They also asked a Declaration from the Court that the decisions and/or directions in the Proclamation are null and void ab initio (ineffective from the beginning) and of no force or effect in Law.
UNP Parliamentarians Kabir Hashim and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Lal Wijenayake of the United Left Front, CPA, Election Commission Member Prof. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, Attorney-at-Law G.C.T. Perera, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, All Ceylon Makkal Congress, and MP Mano Ganesan filed the Rights petitions.
K. Kanag-Iswaran PC, Tilak Marapana PC, Dr. Jayampathi Wickremaratne PC, M.A. Sumanthiran PC, Viran Corea, Ikram Muhamed PC, J.C. Weliamuna PC, Ronald Perera PC, Hejaaz Hizbullah, and Suren Fernando appeared for the petitioners.
Gamini Marapana PC with Navin Marapana, as well as Sanjeeva Jayawardena PC, M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC appeared for the Intervenient-Petitioners.
Attorney General Jayantha Jayasinghe with Solicitor General Dappula de Livera, Senior Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Rajaratnam, Additional Solicitors General Demuni de Silva, and Farzana Jameel, as well as Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle, Senior State Counsel Shaheeda Barrie, State Counsels Kanishka de Silva and Manohara Jayasinghe appeared for the Attorney General.