SC Interpretation, Parliament And Wickramasinghe’s ‘Arrogant’ Supremacy
By Kusal Perera –
Secretary General of the UNP Mr. Tissa Attanayake was quoted in media on a statement made by him this Saturday (05 January) to the effect, the UNP members who represented the select committee refrained from appearing in the Appeal Court as the impeachment motion was a matter that had to be dealt with in Parliament (emphasis added)
He had then said, they urge the government to introduce laws in line with the Commonwealth ‘Latimer House Principles’ on the removal of judges before going ahead with the impeachment motion, as it is the best option for the government, in the wake of the Supreme Court determination which declared that Parliament Standing Orders were not laws. (emphasis added)
Who ever who drafted this statement for Tissa Attanayake, needs to at least have some sense of ‘logic’ in arguing a case. Why go with the SC determination to have “Latimer House Principles” adopted for the conduct of judges, IF you don’t accept the judiciary has a right to interpret what is legal and what is not, about the impeachment ? IF you don’t even want to appear before the judiciary, saying the parliament is ‘supreme’ ?
Why the UNP has to go along with that stupidly confused argument is because, every one in the UNP is gagged and warned not to speak on the impeachment by their almighty leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, while the party was told to follow his disastrous leadership. Wickramasinghe does not talk politics of this impeachment. He avoids questioning why this Rajapaksa regime wants to impeach CJ Bandaranayake, who was a very loyal judge and a CJ to the regime, till Secretary JSC was asked to issue a statement that marked the conflict in public.
But, can Wickramasinghe deny the fact, this fight is only between the President and his regime and the Apex of the Judiciary, the Supreme and the Appeal Courts and has nothing to do with the parliament, except for the fact that it is being used by the Presidency to have a pre decided ruling of their own, against Chief Justice Bandaranayake?
Can Wickramasinghe disagree with the conclusion, this whole tragic episode of the impeachment against CJ Bandaranayake, WILL end after the two day parliamentary debate on the PSC Report takes a vote and the President would be advised on a majority vote to remove Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake from her post as CJ, exactly as he has directed his mouthpieces to do ?
The decision to have the post of Chief Justice vacant, was for sure made even before the 117 MPs were called upon to sign the impeachment motion. How it could be achieved was the only question that begged an answer. From the goon attack on the JSC Secretary Thilakaratne to the handing over of the impeachment motion to the Speaker and even after, the Rajapaksa regime would have been more than happy and comfortable too, if they were able to secure the resignation of Bandaranayake from the CJ’s post, than having to “remove” her from the post. They went into a dilemma when she did not resign from the post with a stout backing from the legal fraternity, though probed by many proxies of the regime and pressured to accede to the regime’s wishes. That was what compelled the Rajapaksa regime to keep pushing the impeachment process to its final conclusion for a vote in parliament and that is why there is now no turning back for both sides. For the regime, they can not waste time either, with “anti impeachment” protests gaining ground as “anti Rajapaksa” protests. They surely must be feeling their own Sinhala, urban middle class base turning angry against them.
This aggravating tug of war for each others stand point, was taken up by those lawyers who fought to save the CJ, more as a battle on a legal platform. That was what brought this debate about what and how the co-existence between the judiciary and the parliament should be. Ranil Wickramasinghe was in no mind to get into this debate as a democratic political leader. He is NOT prepared to accept a parliament that would have to accept judicial independence in par with the legislature. It was therefore his very abstract a-political interpretation of a “Supreme” parliament, the Rajapaksa regime is firmly fixed to.
His claim for parliamentary supremacy over the judiciary, is not valid and pretty much dangerous for a society that is fighting hard to live democratically, coming from a leader who would not allow any collective decision making within his own party. Ranil Wickramasinghe has proved he is NOT a leader who would allow democracy even within his own party, feeling secure now after he screwed the party to elect him leader for 06 years. There was no report of the UNP parliamentary group deliberating on what their position should be on the impeachment and whether the UNP should participate in the PSC. Therefore, Lakshman Kiriella MP and one of the two MPs who sat in the PSC from the Opposition, took it as his right to say he would abide by the notice of the Appeal Court and said so publicly. But Kiriella could not do what he thought and said was the right thing to do, because Wickramasinghe said “NO” and not the party. There was NO discussion within the UNP on that.
His gagging every UNP Parliamentary Member and denying them from taking an independent position on an extremely important and serious national issue, belittles and contradicts his own position that the parliament is supreme. How can this parliament be supreme, IF the remaining UNP MPs from the 60 elected, can not decide collectively what their position should be in parliament on the impeachment ? IF they are arrogantly gagged and they can not democratically decide, it only means they are compelled to forfeit their right to represent their constituency. Therefore what Wickramasinghe wants as a “Supreme” parliament is one that would decide and act the way he wants. His perception of a supreme parliament is not a democratic House that represents the people, though elected by the people.
Therefore what difference if any is there in UPFA members of parliament voting for the impeachment as dictated by President Rajapaksa because his regime now wants a CJ of their choice and the UNP members of parliament being driven to debate the impeachment motion report and legitimise the action of the Rajapaksa regime, because the UNP leader wants a parliament of his choice to decide his way ?
People’s representation is deformed and warped in there, any way. Wickramasinghe should know best that the vote his party received at the 2010 parliamentary elections is not reflected in this parliament any more. He should also know, after the 1978 Constitution with a powerful Executive Presidency, the parliament is now subordinate to that power in every way. It is not a “supreme” parliament now and can not act supreme, independent of that executive power as a legislating body. This parliament is therefore totally alien to what this society wants and expects from an elected parliament.
In such political context, the UNP decision to allow this regime’s 2013 Budget to go through the House unconstitutionally and with their participation, was not a decision taken collectively by the UNP parliamentarians, but one where the UNP leadership compromised with the political necessity of the Rajapaksa regime. Therefore, having participated in the budget debate and voting against it, in making the unconstitutional Budget legitimate and constitutional, Members like Eran Wickramaratne grumbled in public that the Budget is “unconstitutional”.
Such is what Wickramasinghe is scheming and manipulating over the impeachment motion against the CJ. His decision therefore has to be publicly condemned by every citizen and politically challenged at every level of the party organisation, from local government bodies, through provincial councils to party MPs and electoral organisers. The big question for the UNP is, can they win back some democracy for them in the party, before talking of democracy for the people and society. Or else, any regime change would only mean, a change of faces but not politics of arrogant power.