The Supreme Court five-judge-bench headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya yesterday unanimously refused to grant Leave to Proceed with eight Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the dissolution of Parliament and holding the General Election on June 20, 2020.
Accordingly, the Court decided to dismiss all petitions in limine.
However, Preliminary Objections raised by respondent parties including Attorney General were overruled by majority decision of the five judges.
The Supreme Court Five Judge Bench comprised Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena and Justice Vijith Malalgoda.
Pronouncing the ruling around 3:13 pm yesterday, the Chief Justice informed that the Court provided opportunities for all counsel in all applications on the preliminary objections raised as well as the main application.
“By majority decision, preliminary objections are overruled. By unanimous decision, Leave to Proceed is refused for all applications,” the Chief Justice announced.
These petitions were taken up for hearing from 18th of May at the Ceremonial Hall of the Supreme Court for the purpose of ensuring social distancing following the Coronavirus outbreak.
At the outset of the hearing into the eight Fundamental Rights petitions, the Attorney General raised preliminary objections regarding the maintainability of the petitions.
Subsequently, attorneys who appeared on behalf of the petitioners began making their submissions. Thereafter, attorneys who appeared on behalf of the respondents made their submissions. Subsequently, the Supreme Court allowed counsel who appeared on behalf of the 15 intervenient petitioners to make their submissions.
By June 1, the Supreme Court concluded preliminary hearing into these petitions.
Attorney-at-Law Charitha Gunaratne, son of former Central Province Governor Maithri Gunaratne initially filed a petition seeking a declaration that the Gazette notification in question is unconstitutional.
Subsequently, several political parties including the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and several civil society activists including former Ravaya newspaper Editor Victor Ivan and Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu had also filed Fundamental Rights petitions over the same issue relating to General Election and the dissolution of Parliament.
They sought an order quashing the Extraordinary Gazette notification declaring the General Election on June 20.
The petitioners cited Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, its members President’s Counsel N.J. Abeysekara and Prof. S. Rathnajeevan H. Hoole, and the Attorney General as the respondents.
The petitioners maintained that the country cannot be left without a Parliament for a period of more than three months.
M.A. Sumanthiran PC with counsel Ermiza Tegal appeared for the petitioner Charitha Gunaratne. Senior Counsel Viran Corea with Counsel Bhavani Fonseka and Luwie Ganeshathasan appeared for CPA and Dr. P. Saravanamuttu. President’s Counsel Geoffrey Alagarathnam, Pulasthi Hewamana, Lasantha Garusinghe and Anurangi Singh instructed by Ishara Gunewardane appeared for petitioner S.C.C. Elankovan.
Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni De Silva with Senior Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle appeared for the Attorney General.
Romesh de Silva PC with Ali Sabry PC, Counsel Ruwantha Cooray appeared for Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara. President’s Counsel Saliya Peiris with Counsel V. K. Choksy appeared for the Election Commission. Ashtika Theivendra appeared for Prof. S. Ratnajeevan Hoole.
Sanjeeeva Jayawardena PC appeared for intervenient petitioner Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera. Gamini Marapana PC with Navin Marapana PC, Counsel Kaushalya Molligoda and Uchitha Wickremesinghe appeared for Ven. Attapatukande Ananda Thera, an intervention party. Senior Counsel Canishka Witharana appeared for intervenient petitioner Attorney-at-law Premanath C. Dolawatta.