President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Upul Jayasuriya today expressed grave concern over the Supreme Court’s process to determine President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s eligibility to contest for a third term.
Speaking to Colombo Telegraph, Upul Jayasuriya said; “This ‘opinion’ expressed by the SC goes to prove all what I have said about the pressure exerted by the Executive on the Judiciary. The manner in which this opinion was expressed conveyed beyond doubt the pathetic situation in which the citizens of Sri Lanka are placed.”
The BASL president said; “This is the first time ever in the history of the Constitution of Sri Lanka wherein the proceedings concerning an ‘opinion’ has been held in Camera (private hearing opposed to a public hearing as always done) though it is provided for in the constitution. Judges in the past have always taken the more transparent path of an open court proceeding where in parties are afforded the opportunity of making submissions. That opportunity has been deprived in the current instance. There was no need to do it. There was no election for the Presidency pronounced.
“There was provision in the Constitution for the SC to seek more time. More over President asked the Supreme Court about the applicability of the provision on ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’. This issue that was applicable on Mahinda Rajapaksa is a matter of private concern. It was the duty of the SC to have maintained its glory, the serenity and the credibility and refrained from expressing its opinion.
“An opinion is not binding. However there will be no public officer who will have the courage to ignore this opinion.
“President Rajapaksa asked for a mandate from the people in 2010 on the basis that he would not contest again on the basis of the constitutional provision as it existed then. He is therefore Ineligible to violate that mandate with out the will of the people obtained at a referendum. When 18th amendment was assented by the Parliament they could not have done it with out a mandate from the people if the 18th Amendment was to be applicable to the a Incumbent President. Such mandate was not obtained at a referendum on the 18th amendment. Therefore it is a fallacy to say the least that the President can contest for a third time apart from the cardinal principle that no law could be applicable retrospectively.
“Finally I would conclude by saying that the Judiciary has succumbed to the pressure applied by the Executive President.
“There is another alarming matter. On Last Friday at 3 pm the deadline was imposed to file written submissions. One day later on Sunday morning “Sunday Observer” reported that 33 out of 35 counsels has filed written submissions supporting the view that the President can contest for the 3rd time along with justifying the calling of a Presidential Election after 4 years.
“Question also arises as to how this government controlled Newspaper was privy to this information. This information was only known to the judges or the Registrar of the Supreme Court !”