Table copy of SC opinion on third term in House – UNP

Speaker promises to inquire into Opp demand

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by Saman Indrajith

download (1)Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga yesterday requested the government to table a copy of the Supreme Court decision that enabled President Mahinda Rajapaksa to seek re-election for a third time, in Parliament.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa assured the UNP that he would look into Amaratunga’s request and make his position known.

Raising a point of order at the commencement of public business in Parliament, MP Amaratunga said that would help MPs know the basis on which the SC decision had been made.

Amaratunga said that there was a doubt whether the judges of Supreme Court had placed their signatures to endorse the incumbent President’s bid. The entire nation was waiting to see on what legal grounds the judges had decided to approve the President’s move.

Chief Opposition Whip Amaratunga: Leader of the House Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva on Tuesday told the House that a ten- member panel of judges of the Supreme Court had decided that there was no legal impediment for President Rajapaksa. The opinion of the Supreme Court had been sought after amending certain provisions in the Constitution. Thus, there is a need for the Members of Parliament to know the Supreme Court decision. We want to know how the said judges have reached that decision and on what basis they did so. Had this decision been sent to the Speaker there would have been no problem.”

“We are not challenging the Supreme Court decision. But, we want to know what factors had been taken into consideration when that decision was made. The Leader of the House read out a part of the Supreme Court decision to the House. That is not enough. Thus, we request the government to table a copy of the decision be tabled in Parliament. We also request the Speaker to order the government to do so.

UPFA National List MP AHM Azwer: This is not a judgment by the Supreme Court. The President by the powers vested in him sought the opinion of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court conveyed its opinion to the President not to Parliament.

UNP Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella: According to the Standing Orders there is no provision for the Leader of the House to present such a decision to Parliament. When a Bill is challenged it is sent to the Supreme Court which subsequently sends its opinion or decision to the Speaker. But, on this occasion no such thing has taken place. Therefore, we want to know how and why the Supreme Court’s opinion has been sought and on what ground the decision has been delivered.

Chief Government Whip Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena: The announcement was made by the Leader of the House during the committee stage debate on budget 2015 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources Management. He was participating in the debate and it was his ministry. Thus it is wrong for you to say that the Leader of the House made an announcement. He said so considering it is a responsibility of the government to inform Parliament of the Supreme Court opinion. If you need a copy of the document, the Speaker could order us to do so we would present it to the House.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa: I cannot force you to present the Supreme Court decision to Parliament. I would look into the matter and convey my decision to the House.