Despite the implementation of the 18th amendment, former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva has has stated that President Rajapaksa became constitutionally disqualified to seek a third term on the very day he was elected for a second term.
Silva who is presently heading a Committee to draft a new amendment to the Constitution, in an interview with Sunday Lankadeepa has stated that on January 27, 2010 when President Rajapaksa was elected for a second term, he automatically became ineligible to seek a third term since Section 31.2 of the Constitution very clearly states that any individual elected by the people as the President for two consecutive terms, stands disqualified.
While pointing out the two term restriction is imperative for the preservation of democracy in the country, Silva has explained that former President JR Jayewardene’s first amendment to the Constitution referring to the restriction of only two Presidential terms for one individual was made very clear in the Constitution of 1978
He has therefore pointed out that the context in which the 18th amendment has been passed contains an ‘important constitutional disqualification’ while adding that despite the 18th amendment removing section 31.2, the disqualification is still applicable to President Rajapaksa.
He has also noted that although this dilemma brings out the question of whether the amendment has a retrospective effect in implementation, it is important to remember that usually the law is for the future and in the case of the changes brought into effect by the 18 amendment, applicable to any future President.
Furthermore, in order to underpin his argument Silva has referred to Section 6 of the Interpretation Law, which states that any such amendment does not remove disqualifications or punishment previously imposed by law unless another new mention to that effect are included while pointing out that those who drafted the 18th amendment have forgotten to verify the points.
“Therefore, in such context, if the President informs the Elections Commissioner that he wishes to seek re-election for a third term upon completing four years in his second term, any citizen can challenge the Elections Commissioner’s powers and it should be done in a court prior to fixing an election,” he has noted.