By Rathindra Kuruwita
Those who were close to President Maithripala Sirisena was damaging the reputation of the president and the institution of the executive president, Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Professor G.L. Peiris told The Island yesterday.
He said so referring to the statement made by Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary, Dayasiri Jayasekara, on Tuesday, that they were planning to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court when President Maithripala Sirisena’s term would expire.
Prof. Peiris said that the actions of those individuals, were without the approval or the knowledge of the President.
“The 19th amendment reduced the term of the President from six to five years. Jayasekera’s argument is that the 19th amendment to the constitution was certified by the Speaker on June 21, 2015. Therefore, the starting date of the President’s term is that, they argue. But this is the same argument they tried to make when they asked the Supreme Court to determine whether Sirisena’s current tenure is five or six years. The court shot this down and there is no basis for this argument because the term starts the day he took oath.”
Incidentally, Jayasekera is a pupil of Prof. Peiris at the Law Faculty of the Colombo University. The latter also served on the personal staff of the former.
The SLPP Chairperson said that consulting the Court again on that matter was humiliating for the President and that was not his wish. Peiris also drew attention to Jayasekera’s statement that the SLFP would only seek the opinion of the court after the appointment of a new Chief Justice.
“If there is a strong case, why wait? This is very strange,” the former law professor said.
Prof. Peiris added that according to sub section 03 of article 129 of the constitution, such a case should be heard by a bench of at least five Supreme Court judges. “Therefore, the Chief Justice alone can’t do anything by himself.”
This attempt is symptomatic of the current administrations aversion to elections, Prof. Peiris said. The term of the Southern Provincial Council ended yesterday and the Western Provincial Council would also be defunct on April 21, he noted.
“With that eight out of nine provincial councils will be defunct. No one knows when the provincial council elections would take place. The government delayed the local council election for two and a half years and now it is trying to prolong the presidential election. The SLPP will fight this in Parliament, on the roads and internationally.”