Was Hunai Farook Statement on July 18th a Violation of Parliamentary Standing Orders?

By Gagani Weerakoon

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament that allowing UPFA MP to make a statement on the Mannar incident soon after the day’s businesses of the House, was in violation of the provisions of the Parliamentary Standing Orders.

He said UPFA MP Hunais Farook was allowed to make a statement to the House on 18 July even after the reply speech made at an adjournment debate was completed.

Raising a point of order, the Opposition Leader said Parliament should be used to criticize the acts of a judicial officer. “This House is above the Courts. I am the one who raises the highest number of issues to safeguard Parliament’s supremacy over judiciary. The privileges we are endowed with must be used with responsibility,” he said.

UPFA appointed MP A.H.M. Azwer said he was the presiding member when MP Farook wanted to speak on that day. According to the provisions of Section 138 of the Parliament Standing Orders, the Chair could decide whether an MP could be allowed to raise such matters even after the conclusion of the debate. “I allowed the MP under those provisions. The matter raised by the MP was of national importance.”

UNP Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella said, “Matters of national importance could not be taken after an adjournment debate.”

Foreign Employment Promotions Minister Dilan Perera said, “This took place inside the Chamber. It could be debated whether what took place is allowed or not by the Standing Orders. Outsiders could not debate that matter.

In response, TNA National List MP M.A. Sumanthiran said, “The matters of national importance should be raised by either the Leader of the Opposition or a leader of the Parliamentary group. If an ordinary MP had been allowed to speak after the adjournment debate, then that was in contradiction with the Standing Orders.

However, Chief Government Whip Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said, “The incident took place at a time when the sittings were on. The Chair has authority during the time of sittings. The Chair could decide whether such a speech should be allowed or not. When the MP raised the issue the Chair did not get up or leave the Chamber, even though the debate was over. An MP is permitted to bring up a matter of national importance. The Chair decided to continue. There is no violation of Standing Orders.

Leader of the Opposition said, “I raised this matter after the Hanzard copy for the particular day has been tabled. My opinion is that the Chair did not act prudently.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said, “I would further study this matter and inform the House of a decision courtesy: Ceylon Today