A five-member bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena’s term is limited to five years from the date of assuming office.
The ruling followed a reference submitted to the Supreme Court by the President last week seeking opinion whether or not he could serve for six years.
The bench comprised of Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Eva Wanasundare, Buvaneka Aluvihare, Sisira de Abrew and K. Chitrasiri is reported to have communicated its opinion to the Presidential Secretariat yesterday.
Earlier, Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya claimed that since Sirisena was elected on January 8, 2015 for a period of six years, any change of term would be ‘an alienation of the sovereignty of the people.’
Commenting on the 19th Amendment, which limited the presidential term to five years, Jayasuriya offered the following argument to the Supreme Court:
“There is no provisions in the 19th Amendment to operate same with retrospective effect. Constitutions cannot be amended with retrospective effect.”