A Supreme Court bench headed by de facto Chief Justice Mohan Pieris has sent to the Speaker of Parliament, a controversial determination on the “”21st Amendment”, a Bill presented by a member of the rightwing political party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). The JHU is part of the ruling UPFA coalition. There have only been 18 amendments so far, so it should have been called “19th Amendment Bill”.
The determination is made, after the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) challenged the Bill as being completely invalid under the Constitution because it had not been referred to all the Provincial Councils as specifically required by the Constitution. The Supreme Court has previously upheld that this is a mandatory requirement, after the Provincial Councils were established by Constitution.
The de facto CJ’s ruling which goes against earlier determinations of the Supreme Court after the Provincial Council system was brought about, seems to be agreed with by the other two judges who sat with him (Sathyaa Hettige and Chandra Ekanayake) who have not made any comments or determinations of their own. Hettige is known to have got his judiciary appointment from the AG’s Department using connections to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Colombo Telegraph has previously reported how even after his appointment as a judge, Hettige has entertained Rajapaksa to private parties. According to several retired senior judges and legal academics contacted by Colombo Telegraph, this is fully unacceptable by international standards for conduct of judges. Earlier, Hettige’s request for appointment had been rejected many times by the Constitutional Council which functioned under the 17th Amendment. The 18th Amendment pushed through by the Rajapaksa regime repealed all the safeguards of the 17th Amendment for independence of the judiciary.
According to a Constitutional Law expert, all arguments taken up should be fully dealt with in the Supreme Court ruling. If there are ignored arguments, the determination “is highly questionable”, she said.
The Colombo Telegraph publishes below without any comment, the written submissions for the CPA and the Supreme Court’s determination published in the Hansard, so our readers can make their own conclusions in an informed way.
Click here for the written submissions for the CPA
Click here for the Supreme Court’s determination published in the Hansard