19 October, 2019

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Plenary Powers And Citizenship 

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

The so called presidential plenary powers are once again in contention. Last year, it was argued that the addition of the words “to summon, prorogue and dissolve parliament” to Article 33 of the Constitution by the 19th Amendment, somehow vitiated the Amendment’s clear and  unambiguous change to Article 70, disallowing the President from dissolving parliament within four years and six months after a general election unless requested by a resolution of parliament passed by no less than two-thirds of the 225 MPs. The Supreme Court did not buy that argument. 

One year later, the argument is about whether or not in November 2005, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa was within his ‘plenary powers’ in signing the dual citizenship authorization for his brother and American citizen Gotabaya Rajapaksa. With all due respect to the deliberations over the legality or the constitutionality of this exercise of presidential plenary powers, a simple question for ordinary Sri Lankans, dual citizens and non-citizen Sri Lankans, is how often does the President of the Republic sign the authorization for a former Sri Lankan citizen to become a dual citizen?

Sri Lanka has progressed light years from the stringent and patriarchal citizenship law of 1948. Among other changes to citizenship laws, mostly after 1977, the recognition of dual citizenship was introduced in 1987. Since then, there have been five presidents including the current one. 

It would be instructive for some keen parliamentarian, probably from the JVP, to ask the relevant Minister or Ministers to provide the following information to parliament and to the public:

1. How many dual citizenships were granted between 1987 and 1993? How of many of them were directly signed by President R. Premadasa?

2. How many dual citizenships were granted between 1993 and 1994? How of many of them were directly signed by President D.B. Wijeytunga?

3. How many dual citizenships were granted between 1995 and 2005 October? How of many of them were directly signed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga?

4. How many dual citizenships were granted between 2005 November and 2014 December ? How of many of them were directly signed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa?

5. How many dual citizenships have been granted since January 2015? How of many of them were directly signed by President Maithripala Sirisena?

6. Is it correct that documents regarding the granting of dual citizenship between 2005 and 2007 are not available as part of government records? Is there any other period where the documents have gone missing? What is the number of dual citizens for whom the government has no documentation? What has the government done to reach out to these dual-citizens and recreate appropriate documentation, in hard copy or electronically? What has the government done to prevent fraudulent claims of obtaining dual citizenship between 2005 and 2007, or any other period of missing documentation?

As with obtaining any other government authorization, obtaining dual citizenship involves the submission of applications, the review of them by officials and recommendation for signature by a designated officer. The signing authority for dual citizenship is the Ministry Secretary. It would be very unusual for a Minister, Prime Minister or President to sign dual citizenship authorization. Even so, a ministerial or presidential signature cannot be executed without a proper application and official recommendation that the application for citizenship be granted.

Plenary powers do not mean the power to act regardless of, or overriding, applicable laws and regulations. One of the presidential plenary powers is to keep and execute the Public Seal of the Republic. But that does not mean, as a lawyer graphically explained to the Supreme Court last year, the President can jump up and down and put his seal everywhere. Nor can a President authorize dual citizenship without the due process of application, review and recommendation. Citizenship is not a presidential gift certificate.   

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  • 3
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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    • 5
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      Like the good man said …….. you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing ……………

      None of the judges have recused themselves ……….. Sumanadasa can take a break

      Gota’s gonna win this challenge and will be allowed to contest …….


      Look on the bright side ……….it was Gota who sidelined Dayan last time ………. and if he sidelines the rest of the leeches/parasites Wimal, Gammanpila, Godahewa, Lester, ……. add ye own ……. things for the country can only look up!

      Then again, all serial-killers weren’t all that bad ……. Charles Manson took under his wing young runaways and gave them a family; a sense of belonging …… Gota …… sorta is doing the same thang.

      In public appearances, book-fares ………. young are flocking and cozing up to him ………

      If killing is what makes Lankans flock to ye …….. I’m gonna kill Native, Ramona, Old Codger, Sinhalese_Man, J&F ……… all the people who make my life in the forum difficult

      Vote for me; I’m not even contesting ……… but if ye believe that any of the other contestants are going to put the country right …….. why not take a chance on a rank outsider …….. I have several of Bernie Madoff’s used cars to sell to the true-believers. ……. they truly go faster than Gota’s, Sajith’s, Anura’s …… I can vouch ….. ye can take my word to the bank.

      Ah! Lanka! ……. Where would Lanka be if there were no Lankans!

      I wonder.

  • 6
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    another Non resident
    Just subject the dual citizenship certificate to CARBON DATING . We will be able to know if the certificate was issued in 2005 or 2019

    • 1
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      or even 250 B.C.

  • 0
    2

    Rajan, for a fact I know that our application was awaiting “presidential approval”. At least this is what the officials told us.

  • 0
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    a senior lawyer told me that if mahinda signed the letter before he took his oaths as pm it would be invalid
    if he signed it after taking oaths chandrikas cabinet will be in force till a new one is appointed
    there is no interregnum

  • 4
    2

    GOTA will win this legal battle.

    Ranil will help him to clear all his obstacles whether its legal/media/security.

    Ranil is Gota’s little PET.

    AKA Peththappu

  • 2
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    Non Resident I fully agree with your opinion

  • 2
    2

    This Rajan Philip’s argument is a clear example of how hatred clouds logic. In Sinhala idiom these ungrateful ******** have no hell to go.

    Soma

    • 2
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      Soman

      What logic has got to do with you?
      Logic don’t mix with you.

  • 2
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    We are no worried of GR citizenship at all. But we wanted that People could choice to give FREEDOM of right to VOTE citizens of Sri lankan.
    All Tamils, Muslims and JVP, TNA an anarchist having every right to Freedom in Lanka.
    But Buddhist Priest over 60 monks in Jail or prison under the by Ranil Wick, CBK and MS regime since 2015 Jan 8th!
    The majority of Sinhalese -Buddhist has lost their identity in Sri Lankan!
    They lost their Land Rights under UNP Regime..

  • 6
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    Any of the relevant dept can’t trace.any evidence that he has applied,only the thing they have is his brother signed certificate but this might be the cooked one,these are born crooks,we all knows how the young prince pass his law exam.

  • 1
    5

    As an obvious attempt to derail the campaign of Gotabaya. Let’s not pretend that it is anything else. His loyalty to SRI LANKA is not in question it is procedure, so do the proper procedure and get it over with.

    Rajapakse- haters, we know who you are, don’t pretend. Others are idealistic dreamers.

    • 2
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      Are you a Rajapakse lover then?
      If so, how was your punakku breakfast today?!

  • 3
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    He claims he has been released from US citizenship. But the publicly released certificate was a fake. No one has seen the real one. This is in spite of litigation pending in US courts. A fact taken into consideration when granting release. But none of this mattered the stupid class is convinced he is no longer a US citizen just like they are convinced he will win the election. The murder the corruption the sheer menace of this monster does not matter to these equally menacing supporters. No right thinking person of sound mind will vote for such a person much less convince them selves that he is going to win an election. The moment I hear that Gotler has given up his US citizenship and that he is going to win the the elections my heckles go up. I usually distance my self from such people for they are utterly stupid or a menace to society them selves. And now we have the latest drama. Dual citizenship granted via presidential fiat with no documentation of the individual and also the entire periods worth of documents for others who would have been granted dual citizenship also missing. This is similar to another allegation laid at Gotler’s feet aka the burning of the Colombo Katchcheri to destroy the deeds of expensive real estate so that they can be robbed from the rightful owners who may happen to be abroad.

    • 2
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      Well said Wera…these dumb Sri Lankan baboons make my hackles rise as well. A man who probably should be in prison by now..Punakku eating Sri Lankan bovines have destroyed our country.
      Nowadays I look at sri Sri Lanka with utter disdain..bunch of demented, selfish, racist, narrow minded throwbacks to an uncivilised era, that’s what a vast section of the cattle herd are..

  • 2
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    Dear Rajan Philips,

    Dual nationality or citizenship certificate should be signed by Minister for Home affairs and his secretary ( two signatures) , after a rigours vetting process completed by department of defence., along with other departments if necessary. Signing by President?, may be under his prerogative powers enshrined (?) in the constitution. You have a home work to do, I suppose.

  • 0
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    GulSiri, Donning a yellow robe and involved in all all crimes including sexually abusing young ones does not make him a monk. Can recall the times from Buddharakkitha, Somarama and JVP killers who took away the respect the Sri Lankans had for the sacred yellow robe,.

  • 1
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    Court of Appeal has rejected the petition. Now what is the plan of the (un)civvies?

    • 0
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      Go take a look in the mirror. See what you like?

  • 1
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    Though Shanaka de Silva put forward a powerful argument, the CoA has rejected the case. I think it is worthy for the petitioners to appeal the verdict.

    Go for it

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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  • 0
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    Plenary Power may be used only in exceptional circumstances.
    Bestowing and signing the citizenship of ones sibling is certainly not an exceptional circumstance.
    The signed document is missing. This is exceptional!
    Was “Plenary Powers” used to pardon Gnanasara Thera?

    • 0
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      Plenary powers could have been used for granting citizenship to the upcountry Tamils by JR and others who followed him. But………………?

    • 1
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      These judges are unique.
      Let’s see what’s in the offing from the Supreme Court!

  • 0
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    I know I am writing this comment after the verdict , but the verdict proved how twisted some of the logic of yahapalanaya folks here. Did anyone here know that Chandrika gave Duncan white an honorary citizenship.?. So should that be invalidated as well.

    Most people on CT is Rajapakse haters. All their comments reflect that.

  • 1
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    Very clear reasoning of Rajan Philips.
    Six [6 ] loaded questions.
    I would like to add one more.
    How much money was looted by the cabal using Plenary powers?

  • 1
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    The path has been cleared to obtain dual citizenship without application or going to immigration and emigration dept

    Anyone can hold a certificate bearing the serial number of another and yet can remain without being jailed

    We have been freed

  • 0
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    This matter is constitutional, petitioners must go to supreme Court. The appeal court judgement appears to be flawed,! SC will gv the correct judgement!

  • 0
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    I notice that hardly any commentator has referred to the question of the candidate’s US citizenship. What the court has pronounced on is his impugned dual citizenship. The President of the Court by strong indications going back to the 2006 COI was a protege of Sarath Silva and Mahinda Rajapaksa.
    The question of the candidate’s US citizenship, which he has apparently tried to disown, as far as is publicly known, remains unsettled.

  • 0
    0

    The Court has ruled that he is indeed a Srilankan Citizen.OK.
    Does that mean he is not a US citizen?

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