Apex Court rules Parliament dissolution unconstitutional

2018-12-13 at 17:44

The Supreme Court in a historic decision today announced that Gazette 2096/70, issued by President Maithripala Sirisena, dissolving Parliament is unconstitutional.

The verdict was delivered by a seven member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Nalin Perera.

All seven judges unanimously ruled that the dissolution of Parliament was unconstitutional.

The Chief Justice delivering the verdict said the President is not allowed to dissolve Parliament before the completion of four and a half years.

Chief Justice Nalin Perera also informed Court that the President can only dissolve Parliament before the completion of 4 and a half years through a resolution that is passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament.

The Chief Justice also claimed that the Fundamental Rights of the petitioners have therefore been violated.

The 13 Fundamental Rights petitions were filed before the Supreme Court on the 12th of November by the United National Party, the Tamil National Alliance, the JVP, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the All Ceylon Makkal Congress, the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, a member of the Elections Commission Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole and attorney-at-law Aruna Laksiri.

The petitions claimed that following the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the powers of the Executive to dissolve Parliament have been limited.

Accordingly the petitioners were seeking an order to annul the Gazette issued by the President.

The petitions were first considered before a three member bench comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera and Judges Priyantha Jayawardene and Prasanna Jayawardene.

Several intervening petitions were also filed before the Supreme Court.

The three-member bench on the 13th of November issued an interim injunction on the Gazette issued by the President dissolving Parliament.

Parliament accordingly convened on the 14th of November. Subsequently a group requested the presiding bench to be increased from three to seven through a motion.

Accordingly a bench comprising Chief Justice Nalin Perera and Judges Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira De Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardene, Prasanna Jayawardene, Vijith Malalgoda and Murdu Fernando was appointed.

The Fundamental Rights petitions were heard on the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th of December.

Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya made his submissions last Wednesday, stating the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the petitions and therefore called for the petitions to be dismissed.

The hearing of the petitions concluded in the evening of the 7th of December after both factions presented their submissions before the seven-member Bench.

Accordingly the Supreme Court bench decided to extend the interim injunction order until a verdict is delivered.