General Secretary of Sri Lanka Communist Party DEW Gunasekara yesterday challenged the appointment of rejected candidates through the national list in the Supreme Court.
According the national list filed by the UPFA, DEW Gunasekara’s name has been listed 3rd in the list and it was gazetted by the Election Commissioner during the nomination period for the information. This is a legal requirement stipulated by the Constitution (Article 99A). However, according to the Petitioner, the Secretary of the UPFA, usurping the power of election of MPs vested only in the people, an inalienable right protected in the Constitution (Article 3 & 4), appointed 7 rejected candidates [(S B Dissanayake (Kandy), Mahinda Samarasinghe (Kalutara), Thilanga Sumathipala (Colombo), Hisbullah Lebbe (Batticaloa), Kakshman Yapa Abeywardena (Matara), A Ramanathan (Jaffna) and Wijayamuni Zoysa (Monaragala)] who contested at the General Election through the National List.
Many political rights activists and many others have condemned this improper action of appointing those who have been rejected by the people. In this background the Petitioner DEW Gunasekara, who also has lost his legitimate expectations have resorted to challenge the whole process of appointing rejected MPs through the national list in the Supreme Court. Supporting his case with a Hanzard (04-05-1988) produced in Court, the day the 14th amendment was passed, the Petitioner has shown that he himself had fearlessly condemned the move of appointing those who have rejected by the people at the Parliamentary debate. Verbatim of the Hansard is reproduced below.
“… Bringing unelected people is monstrously undemocratic. It will lead to very undemocratic method of voicing opinion. So, at least learn a lesson after having ruled this country for 11 years, after putting the whole nation into a state of fear, insecurity and political and economic chaos…”
The Petitioner further states in his Petition field in Court today that the whole process adopted by the then President to enact the clause he challenge, which permitted rejected candidates to the enter parliament through the national list is grossly irregular and unlawful. According to the Hansard (04-05-1988) field in Court to support his case, the Prime Minister R Premadasa, who introduced the bill had informed the Parliament as follows “These 29 seats will be allocated to the political parties contesting the election, in proportion to the votes received by each party at the National level. The names of the party nominees are known before hand; in fact their names are published in the Gazette immediately after the closing of nominations. Therefore the voters are aware of the identity of the candidates who are to be elected as National Members. Member are not to be appointed or nominated by parties, When people vote for the party they will be aware that some candidates in the list, are likely to be elected, on the strength of such votes”.
Therefore, the Petitioner in his petition argues that appointing of the defeated candidates is completely against the intension of the lawmakers which the court aught to consider and submits further that the Attorney General has also given an undertaking to the Court, at the time the Supreme Court’s determination had been surreptitiously sought by JRJ (in April 1988) with nobody’s knowledge, that the National list will not be hidden as a confidential document but the people would be informed of the names of the candidates through a Gazette during the Nomination period.
It is interesting to see when the Petitioner states that there were two bills on the 14th amendment. The then Prime Minster R Premadasa himself had spoken on this as follows. “What is this 14th Amendemnt to the Constitution? I have to raise this question, because there has been a discussion of a 14th amendment, which as I came to understand later, is different from the Amendment that I speak of”.
The Petitioner states that he had made his observation on the bill, which was placed on the Order Paper of the Parliament on 03rd May 1988 and passed on the following day, betraying the people of their democratic rights, leaving no opportunity at all for the concerned citizens to challenge the said bill, which the Petitioner argue is a clear violation of Article 78 of the Constitution – Article 78 requires any bill shall be gazetted at least 7 days before it is placed on the Order Paper of Parliament.
In this background the Petitioner request the Supreme Court to declare that the clause, that violates people’s sovereign rights without their approval is obtained at a referendum is invalid and direct the party secretary of the UPFA to nominate him to the Election Commission to declare as a duly elected MP through the National List of the UPFA.
Considering the National interest involved in the case which directly affects the people’s sovereign rights Petitioner’s counsel, Nagananda Kodituwakku, through a Motion filed in Court today, has requested for the Full Bench of the Supreme Court to hear this case.