2 March, 2024

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President Resists Independent Review Of His Nominees To High Posts By Constitutional Council

The Lawyers’ Collective strongly condemns the recent attempt by President Wickremesinghe to intimidate the Constitutional Council of Sri Lanka. In an authoritarian move, on 23 November 2023, President Wickremesinghe in an address to Parliament entirely misrepresented the constitutional purpose of the Constitutional Council by stating that the ‘Council falls under the Executive’. The heavy handed and dangerous public comments of the President constitute a serious undermining of constitutionally imposed checks and balances in the governance of the country.  

The Constitutional Council (CC) was originally established by the 17th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka in the year 2000 to vet presidential nominees to high posts prior to appointments being made by the President. The 19th Amendment re-established the Council. The 18th and 20th Amendments brought by Rajapakse administrations abolished the CC as a means of regaining untrammelled powers of the Executive Presidency. Presently, the Council – now under the 21st amendment to the Constitution, is made up of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, one Member of Parliament appointed by the President, five persons appointed by the President as nominated; one Member of Parliament nominated by agreement of the majority of the Members of Parliament representing the Government; one Member of Parliament nominated by agreement of the majority of the Members of Parliament of the political party or independent group to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs; three persons nominated by the Speaker by agreement of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and one Member of Parliament nominated by agreement of the Members of Parliament other than those representing the Government and those belonging to the political party or independent group to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs, and appointed by the President. Three persons of those nominated by the speaker by agreement of the PM and Leader of the Opposition are to be persons of integrity, who have distinguished themselves in public life and who are not members of any political party.

The Council was conceived in response to the largely unchecked powers of the President (a design of the 1978 Constitution) in making appointments to high posts such as Chief Justice, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal Judges, the Attorney General, Auditor General, Inspector General of Police, Secretary General of Parliament and the independent Commissions. The Council is a means of achieving national consensus on appointments that require persons of merit, integrity and acceptance across political divides to temper public perceptions of bias and partiality. The Council was an integral step in depoliticising high public posts. It was also a leap in constitutional development towards securing public accountability and rebuilding public trust in key institutions. Since the Council was established, the executive has from time to time resisted the check placed on it by various means. There has been non-appointment of members and constitutional amendments that abolished the Council, one which   replaced it with a rubber stamp Parliamentary Council. Many Presidents have struggled to abide by the high standards imposed by the Constitution. 

President Wickremesinghe, who heralded the 21st Amendment as a return to accountable governance has, by his recent statements in and outside of parliament, crossed a line. In an outrageous move, the President publicly found fault with the Council for failing to approve his nominee to the Supreme Court and his continuing requests to reappoint the current IGP long after his age of retirement. The Constitutional Council is fulfilling its obligations in refusing this reappointment. He also makes broad claims that the lack of approval has resulted in the police not functioning and the courts coming to a standstill. The President’s decision to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to probe into ‘delays’ by the CC constitutes a threat to the members of the Constitutional Council who are constitutionally mandated to deliberate on and independently decide on whether or not a presidential nominee will be approved. If only one candidate is nominated and CC approval is not given, he must hasten to place one or more better suited candidates for approval. He cannot expect to nominate one person and when the CC cannot endorse such person, resort to public complaints and threats against the Council. In fact, it demonstrates the President to disregard of clear constitutional limitations on his executive powers.

The Lawyer’s Collective notes the growing authoritarianism of a President who serves without a mandate from the people. People’s sovereignty as articulated by the Constitution cannot be flippantly dismissed. This has been powerfully stated in several Supreme Court decisions including a majority decision delivered last week on the economic crisis. By several previous statements we have raised concerns that the damage to public trust is long lasting. In the wake of an economic and political crisis, and people having expressed their strong desire for change, the conduct of the President signals a failure to break away from undemocratic governance practices of the past, breaching his own pledge of support for the 21st Amendment. 

It is vital that the corporate sector as well as the international community including the International Monetary Fund take grave notice of the growing authoritarianism of the President and the impact it has on good governance and the rule of law in Sri Lanka. If this authoritarian trajectory of the President continues unchecked, it will only lead to political upheaval and further economic uncertainty.

On behalf of the Lawyers’ Collective

Mr. Upul Jayasuriya, President’s Counsel

Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, President’s Counsel

Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Geoffrey Alagaratnam, President’s Counsel

Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran, President’s Counsel

Mr. Dulindra Weerasooriya, President’s Counsel

Mr. Dinal Phillips, President’s Counsel

Mr. Saliya Pieris, President’s Counsel

Mr. S.T. Jayanaga, President’s Counsel

Mr. Nalin Dissanayake, President’s Counsel

Mr. Lal Wijenayake, Attorney-at-Law

Professor Deepika Udagama

Professor Camena Gunaratne

Mr. Upul Kumarapperuma, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. K.W. Janaranjana, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Srinath Perera, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Akalanka Ukwatta, Attorney-at-Law

Ms. Ermiza Tegal, Attorney-at-Law

Mr. Manoj Nanayakkara, Attorney-at-Law

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Latest comments

  • 23
    2

    Ranil Wickremasinghe is a very dangerous dictator than any other people elected Presidents.

  • 9
    4

    Subversion of due process has always been a signature trait of Ranil and the Grand Old Party, that make them no different from those others that have complete disregard for due process.
    .
    “It is vital that the corporate sector as well as the international community including the International Monetary Fund take grave notice of the growing authoritarianism of the President and the impact it has on good governance and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.”
    .
    Has Sri Lankan corporate sector or corporate sector of any other country has influenced on constituional matters of the government to ensure common good ever?
    .
    Does IMF has such powers or a mandate in such affairs? .
    .
    There’s a display of growing authoritarianism that threatens democracy and good governance in right wing politics even across the western world.
    .
    Trump in the US and former home secretary of the UK, Suella Braverman are two examples that comes to mind, that have actively engaged in activities and policies that threaten democratic institutions and governance.
    .
    This seems to be increasingly happening in certain brand of right wing politics, to which in my view Ranil too subscribe to. Hence whether the western world would truly pay any attention to such endeavors by Ranil, I doubt. On the contrary they may welcome such moves and Ranil may have even have their blessings.

  • 13
    0

    Ranil has shown his true self again as a “dictator”. If Ranil appoints Deshabandu Tennekoon as the IGP, who has numerous cases pending in the courts and who is accused of facilitating the attack on Aragalaya, then we can be 100% sure for the next 13 years there will be no rule of law in the country as Tennekoon was born in 1971 and he can be the IGP for the next 13 years. He was also found to have not done his job which resulted in the easter attack.

    What is the solution? The only solution if this appointment is made is for those who are law-abiding citizens to get on to the road and not go to work. Yes at a time like this, it would bring many hardships but the citizens of the country should be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the country.

    Under Tennekoon’s present position, we have seen the underworld raising its head and the drug trade flourishing.

  • 18
    1

    I remember, once Dr. N.M.Perera in expressing his objection to the creation of this position called “President” asked: ” What if a Mad Man is elected to be the President”?

    Hasn’t that been the TRUTH and REALITY proof of that valued statement with all the “Presidents” this country has elected up to now?

    The present holder, Ranil W not being the” PEOPLE’S CHOICE” is proving to be the most “Lunatic” and as a result a DANGER to society and the country. In another sense, he is a “NOMINEE” of another gang of “134” lunatics, criminals and undesirables huddled in the Parliament of the country. On the other hand, I am surprised by the way the “International Community” tolerates this “MAN” and his “GANG” doings in the name of Democracy, Justice, and Fair Play.

    The sooner we get rid of this entire “GANG” the better for the country.

  • 28
    31

    Ranil Wickramasinghe lacks the fundamental right to be the president because he never won the trust of the people.

    He also has no right to speak in parliament because at the last general election he was defeated and did not win his seat.

    His coming to parliament is due to the absurdity of his uncle’s constitution.

    Ranil is president only because the Rajapaksa family of rogues wanted him there.

    • 8
      11

      So many thumbs down against a self-evident observation !

      So thrilling !

      Either this Ranil gal is extremely popular or a particular brand of Jackasses have taken to commenting on this site.

      In which case it is a sad development and a insane move away from reality

      • 1
        1

        Dear deepthi silva,
        .
        You have said that your “self-evident observation” has attracted many (Red) “thumbs downs.
        .
        Your observation was, “Ranil Wickramasinghe lacks the fundamental right to be the president because he never won the trust of the people.”
        .
        The same thought was voiced by Chathuranga Abeysinghe. “was”? Well, I’ve already given that link below the article published later than this. Jeevan Hoole’s,
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/four-new-universities-a-premature-budget-proposal-for-cheats/
        .
        Let me repeat the link in bold type so that every reader here listens to this, in excellent English.
        .
        https://english.newsfirst.lk/2023/11/29/face-to-face-chathuranga-abeysinghe-the-npp-narrative-28th-november-2023

        .
        At 6.02 pm yesterday, I called the lawyer, Sajith Bandara, who headed the list of those who were listed to contest the Bandarawela Municipal Council on 9/03/2023. He told me that Chathuranga is the son of Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe, the Chairman of the NPP:
        .
        https://www.npp.lk/en/about
        .
        Many photographs on that page. Ah! “Nepotism!” some will cry out. Let’s see if anybody actually says that! I haven’t had time to cogitate!!
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

        • 0
          0

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

          For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

      • 0
        0

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

        For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 15
    0

    It is now crystal clear that Executive Presidency or special status to Buddhism to the constitution is not suitable for this country and they have done irreparable damage to the country and its people. It is now crystal clear that Tamils are not the enemies of the country or Sinhala people but the Sinhala Buddhist leadership are the real enemies of the people. IF most of the people realised these truth, there is a future for this country, otherwise no one will be safe.

  • 3
    4

    A rare moment when Ranil was candid about his goals:
    .
    (1) Stay in power
    .
    (2) Allow the lawyers who helped them to make money.
    .
    Looks like things have gone south between him and lawyers, over thd years.
    .
    https://youtu.be/QtHSL0nFxy4?si=uY-sgTBxgHXbQ6KV

    • 6
      4

      Dear Ruchira,
      .
      PART ONE

      .
      I’ve just listened to the 2 minutes, 32 seconds interview that you have linked us to.
      .
      Yes, it is very significant.
      .
      To persuade others (As Many As Possible – ASMAP is not as yet a recognised acronym, is it?) to listen to this let me add that many will find the reference to condoms also hilarious. That is in the light of the numerous children produced by Maithri and him. How crude and coarse that joke of his is! Dear Ruchira,
      .
      PART ONE

      .
      I’ve just listened to the 2 minutes, 32 seconds interview that you have linked us to.
      .
      Yes, it is very significant.
      .
      To persuade others (As Many As Possible – ASMAP is not as yet a recognised acronym, is it?) to listen to this let me add that many will find the reference to condoms also hilarious. That is in the light of the numerous children produced by Maithri and him.

    • 5
      5

      PART TWO
      .
      To get more serious, Ruchira, I’ve been preoccupied with some other issues recently. I’ve been content with doing something unusual for me – giving green thumbs up for your comments. There are many attitudes that I have in common with you.
      .
      Neither of us wants a Two-State solution to Lankan ethnic problem. Very few have understood our reasoning. We Lankans (especially Sinhalese and Tamils, but I think Muslims as well) are one people, and we would like it to continue it like that.
      .
      However, both of us are so aware how far gone the issue now is, that neither of us would oppose Tamils who want Eelam. Sadly, we realise that separation is a possibility, but we will do all that we can to persuade those on the other side to remain with us as friends and equal partners.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

      • 13
        1

        Dear SM – While I’m convinced that your call to remain a unitary state is well intended, if I may caution you, please do not fall for the disingenuous call of others for the same; in the case of the commenter you have praised, the SB majoritarian chauvinism spilled out rather quickly.

        • 5
          0

          Dear Sugandh,
          .
          Thanks for the “caution”
          that you’ve given me.
          .
          I’ll have to think this one out.
          .
          This phrase used by you, “spilled out rather quickly” emphasises how recent the comments by Ruchira have been. He can’t be a new commenter. He would have had a different identity (handle, picture instead of striking gravatar, etc).
          .
          I think that you’d agree with me that interesting comments are not, in themselves, the marks of a dishonest man. You’d agree, wouldn’t you, Sugandh, that Lasantha Pethiyagoda, who has done something similar for gravatar is a National Treasure. And they stay in one’s mind because of the gravatar.
          .
          And “Native Vedda” comments sometimes now rile me, but he’s been with us for so long. As for your comments, I’ve looked here:
          .
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dons-protest-against-the-cancellation-of-swasthika-arulingams-lecture-at-jaffna-university/
          .
          just now. I dawdled over my comment there, and finally failed. I’ve actually met young Swasthika. You have made many comments there. We must be careful in working out what each commenter days.
          .
          For now, I say, Ruchira has given us vivid pictures of the drunken then Prime Minister. Please see this;
          .
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtHSL0nFxy4
          .
          as for Ruchira, even if he’s an imposter, let’s learn from what he’s posted.

          • 6
            0

            Dear Sinhala_Man,
            .
            You seem like a wise man but what made you think that I may have commented here under a different handle?.
            .
            What was that you mentioned about the gravatar? And what did Lasantha Pethiyagoda do?
            .

            • 4
              0

              Dear Ruchira,
              .
              The average person in Lanka seems to be pretty ignorant of what is happening in the World, and even in Lanka. We’ve got to get people to THINK.
              .
              Very few make comments on Colombo Telegraph, because it is an English website, and because most of the other people commenting are anonymous. That there is an a Sinhalese Section is known to few:
              .
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/mahinda-rajapaksa-28-november-2023/
              .
              Strange to have Mahinda Rajapaksa writing there. Almost nobody looks there. Let’s move on.
              .
              Of the handful of comments, few get read. Their identity doesn’t stick in the minds of even the few readers. Therefore, commenters adopt various “tricks”. I use a fair amount of bold lettering; it may be unfair by those who have to rely entirely on their wit and humour. I also display my name, Panini Edirisinhe, and my NIC number, 483111444V. At one level, it is an attention drawer, but it also correctly identifies me. The occasional article I write,
              .
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-maldivian-parliamentary-elections-2019-where-a-happy-result-can-be-predicted/
              .
              displays an authentic photograph of me ( a bit old). All of that also ensures that other readers know that I’m telling the truth as I see it.
              .
              tbc

            • 5
              0

              PART TWO
              .
              Lasantha Pethiyagoda also does all those things, and you will even have the bonus of hearing his voice. He then becomes a real person. His avatar closely resembles his real photograph.
              .
              I like your comments because they are realistic, and project a valid view for a Sinhalese citizen. You have also opted for a distinctive Avatar which sets you apart from those (like me) who have stuck to gravatars. So far so good. You’ve also begun making lots of comments; those takes up most of our days. It raises an inevitable question; why do you do so? Also how is it that a person so interested in local politics maintained silence for so long? My conclusion that you must have commented under some other name is understandable, and rational.
              .
              You have now made a comment which somewhat puzzles me here:
              .
              https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/four-new-universities-a-premature-budget-proposal-for-cheats/
              .
              I intend commenting there.
              .
              These two comments clearly state the issues that get raised in my mind about you. The green thumbs that I gave you represented my true evaluations. With so many means of communication available to us in 2023, we’re communicating ever less.

              • 4
                1

                Dear Sinhala_Man,
                .
                Thank you for the acknowledgement that my comments are realistic and represent the views of average Sinhalese citizens.
                .
                I read your write up on Maldives and the comments made there. Unfortunately I know little or nothing about Maldivian politics. But noticed the comments that point out how both Maldives and even Afghanistan were once Buddhist countries and how some Sinhalese and even Tamils worry that similar islamisation could happen here in SL too.
                .
                These are legitimate concerns of majority of so called Sinhala Buddhist and their chauvnistic and/or racist attitude may be in part a defense against such worries.
                .
                If you refer the Kerry-Lugar report produced by the US, titled: “Sri Lanka: Recharting the US strategy after the war” it also has correctly identified similar concerns the majority Sinhalese community has with regards to the Tamil population in the country and the need to accommodate these concerns in the post war era.
                .
                No matter what the solution is going to be for the Tamil National Question understanding these concerns would be of importance to anyone who wants to foster good relations between communities.

              • 5
                0

                Dear Sinhala_Man,
                .
                I could now see why you suspect that I may have commented here before under a different handle. But the truth is I haven’t. I have read some of the articles that has appeared on CT from time to time but haven’t actively taken part in the conversation any of them have ensued previously.
                .
                I have a wide array of interests, Sri Lankan politics are only a small part of it. The latter for some reason have prevented me from pursuing my other wider interests and left me with some time on hand to reflect upon a lot of things.
                .
                That may perhaps the reason for seemingly sudden appearance of my comments here.
                .
                Have noticed the name Lasantha Pethiyagoda but still to read anything that he has written.
                .
                Waiting to see your comments on Professor Hoole’s essay to see what you found puzzling about mine.
                .
                Despite high literacy rates Sri Lankans remain to be poor in more nuanced forms of literacy like political literacy. Probably a reason for the mess the country is in.
                .

          • 1
            1

            SM, I am not tolerating child’s play in certain topics.

        • 4
          0

          Dear Sugandh,
          .
          I’ve just given a comprehensive Two Part comment to Ruchira. I try always to state only what I really feel.
          .
          As I have told him, when I gave him green thumb approvals, I really thought those comments had positives in them.
          .
          I call upon you to now show where you see “SB majoritarian chauvinism” in his comments.
          .
          It is inevitable that a Sinhalese will see comments differently from a Tamil. The ideal may be to see ourselves as having one common human identity. However, we all intuitively understand that to label our population as “Sinhalese”, “Tamil”, and “Muslim” makes sense. To even start looking for solutions, we have to recognise that.
          .
          When some argue that there also are Veddahs, Burghers, Parsees, etc, I immediately decide that there is an attempt to get legalistic. An important reason for the mess we’re in, is allowing such hair-splitting.
          .
          So, Sugandh, could you please help me a little further, displaying common sense?

          • 2
            1

            SM, as example, when one takes it upon them to declare that “Sri Lanka is the only country to which Sinhala people are indigenous. Therefore I think it should be made part of the world heritage that preserves Sinhalese people, their language and cultural identity.” in the comments section on the piece “The Tamil National Question & The President’s Hypocrisy” authored by MP Sumanthiran, what do you make of it?

            What’s the relevance and the intention of the quoted statement to addressing the Tamil National question whether it be by federal set-up, full implementation of 13A or secession???

            Let’s not encourage folks to wade into topics in which they’re deeply lacking knowledge, like the history on the plight of the North+East Tamil citizenry through SL’s history, but proposing solutions without due consideration of the history as well as the serious current issues that the affected region faces which directly relate to the Tamil National question. Let self-determination prevail for the N+E.

            • 1
              2

              “Let self-determination prevail for the N+E.”
              Why not elsewhere where people of distinct ethnic identity are denied their right to protect it?
              *
              BTW
              Right now, based on electoral preferences, self determination for N&E could badly backfire on its advocates.

            • 1
              1

              ” “Sri Lanka is the only country to which Sinhala people are indigenous. Therefore etc.”
              I have commented on it earlier.
              It is just as absurd as the common claim that ‘There is no country without a Tamil, but there is no country for the Tamils’ to justify the demand for Tamil Eelam.
              Strangely, the region with close to 90% of the world’s Tamils is more interested in secession in Sri Lanka but not where it is located.

              • 0
                0

                SJ,
                .
                Thank you for pointing out. The exact reason why the statement ““Sri Lanka is the only country to which Sinhala people are indigenous. Therefore etc.” made!

      • 4
        1

        Dear Sinhala_Man,
        .
        Thank you for the green thumbs up reactions.
        .
        Yes it is a sad state of affairs, that we have to endure the consequences of the sins of our leaders from yester years.
        .
        Tamil people I see are driven more by emotions than reason. Think one can not find fault with them too given what they have been subjected to. But there’s always two sides to the story and like every other conflict the nuances are complex and unless you address these subtle nuances no matter what the solution given to the problem, there will be conflicts between the communities. Pakistan and India is one example. The relations between Muslims and Hindus inside India aren’t doing any better. And persisting conflicts and disharmony wouldn’t help anyone.
        .
        Hope you will have a pleasant day in Bandarawela.

  • 13
    2

    Ranil has always been a mentally and physically lazy man – the way he speaks and his body-language betray that – who has never done a real job in his life. He is too lazy to go through any due process. It’s a notorious trait of many Lankan privileged.

    The only saving grace for Lanka ……. he is 75 years old ……. time is running out for him.

    I’m looking forward to the day he is marched on to the Galle Face Green and horsed whipped ……. hope he doesn’t kick the bucket before that

    Native would prefer a white-hot iron rod up Ranil’s gaboozle ……. but gotta be careful …….. as a lifelong practitioner Ranil might enjoy it

    Compassionate Buddhist thoughts are made of these ……..

    • 4
      0

      nimal fernando

      “Native would prefer a white-hot iron rod up Ranil’s gaboozle ……. but gotta be careful …….. as a lifelong practitioner Ranil might enjoy it”

      Watch this clip, Ponna’s grandson is carrying an iron rod, watch the clip for how not only the state, police, politicians, … but the people who supply personnel for both have produced so many dimwits ……..

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7odALWGAJ0&t=323s

      It seems these dimwits have nothing better to do. Rest of the country is with sporadic disturbances caused by the dimwits have managed to observe remembrance day.
      Well this is the kind of dimwits public racist Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala anticipated would rule this island.

      Ponna’s grandson speaks in Sinhala.
      Don’t miss it.

      Come to think of it I wonder whether the establishment is trying to build Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam as a formidable future Tamil Leader. It works for corrupt states, undermining other established Tamil parties.

      By the way have you had good time at VP’s birthday do?

  • 0
    0

    Felix Dias Bandaranayake once said a Benevolent Dictator may be the answer to the ills of Sri Lanka. But Ranil is a dangerous dictator concerned with only his power. He is not benevolent but irrelevant to democracy.

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