The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) expressed their doubts about the procedures followed to seek Supreme Court interpretation to determine whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa could contest the presidential election for the third term or not.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader TNA MP M. A. Sumanthiran said that the Supreme Court interpretation on constitution is very important but the manner in which they are making the interpretation is not right.
Excerpts of the interview:
By Waruni Karunarathne
Q: Was there a need for the President to actually go through the Supreme Court to seek a determination to contest for a third term?
A: The question was posed by the former Chief Justice and after that only people started looking at it. That provision causes a problem. That is why the President has got the road prepared to contest for the third term by seeking the Supreme Court interpretation on the matter.
Q: Is there concern that with the fact that Chief Justice is appointed by the president, whatever the outcome of the Supreme Court determination is, if the determination be seen as fair?
A: Nobody in this country expects independent decisions. The President is seeking a determination from the judges that he appointed.
With reference to the Supreme Court determination, we were told that it will be done behind closed doors. They have only asked for written submissions from the BAR Association.
That means they anyway planned not to have an oral hearing. This is very strange. I have been involved in many of these interpretations exercised in the Supreme Court and the court has always had an oral hearing in the open court in public.
These are very important matters of constitutional interpretations. During an oral hearing, they can clarify matters and there can be interactions. The manner in which the Supreme Court is making interpretations of the constitution is not right. They should allow proper public hearing. I would say this is not the most desirable procedure and not a procedure that has been followed up to now.
Q: The government seems to be already preparing for the election by opening several operation centres around the country. Does it mean that the government has already decided who the candidate is and when the election will take place even though the president is seeking the Supreme Court determination?
A: The candidate has to be the president – otherwise they cannot have an early election. The present incumbent can call for an election. Considering the budget and other preparations targeting a presidential election, it shows that they have been very sure about the interpretation.
Q: How will your party prepare to face the election once it is officially announced?
A: Our position is that the election is not due for another two years. If the election is advanced, when that declaration is made, we will declare our position. Until such time, we do not want to decide anything.
Q: There are concerns that the election date will be decided on astrology and to favour an individual as opposed to national interest.
A: We have told the Commissioner of Elections during other discussions and meetings with the other political party members that he must consult all the political parties – at least the parties that are represented in the parliament before deciding on any national election.
He agreed on that – but we will have to wait and see how the Elections Commissioner would act. Once the proclamation is made about the election, we hope that the Elections Commissioner will consult all the political parties before fixing a date.