28 May, 2024


The Conundrum About The Prorogation Of Parliament 

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

There is a big debate going on about the President’s Decision to prorogue the Parliament of Sri Lanka. Apparently foreign parties and missions too are getting involved in the commotion, according to the reports in circulation. It is prudent to examine this  in more detail  because of the underlying dubiosity.

Constitutional position:

In the original constitution of Sri Lanka, before it was amended last under the 19th amendment, the governing provision for the prorogation of Parliament read as follows;

70 (1) The President may, from time to time, by proclamation summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament provided that;

Such an action would be subject to the other provisions in the sub-sections of the articles dealing with the dissolution and prorogation.

This section was amended under the 19th Amendment by repealing paragraph (1) quoted above of that article and by substituting the following;

“(1) The President may by Proclamation, summons, prorogues and dissolve parliament………..’

Provided such decision is taken in accordance with the provisions applicable for the dissolution and prorogation of the parliament. 

As it stands for the purpose of our discussion the articles applicable for the dissolution are irrelevant. What is relevant and in force in the constitution with regard to the prorogation are as follows;

Article 70 (3) , A proclamation proroguing Parliament shall fix a date for the next session, not being more than two months after the date of the Proclamation: Provided that ,at any time while  Parliament stands prorogued, the President may by Proclamation-

  1. Summon the Parliament for an earlier date, not being less than three days from the date of such proclamation, OR
  2. Subject to the provisions of this Article, dissolve parliament.

Article 70(4), all matters which, having been duly brought before Parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the Prorogation of Parliament, may be proceeded with during the next session.

Accordingly, these are the only articles relevant to the prorogation of Parliament by the President.

 Therefore there is no constitutional violation in the proclamation made by the President to prorogue the Parliament. As he has acted under the constitution there is no need for any external influence to urge him to convene the Parliament before the scheduled date. The dates of the next session may have been fixed by the President taking into consideration the things that have to be done during the period the parliament stands prorogued. It becomes totally an act of buffoonery to insist and demand an earlier meeting date of the Parliament disregarding the preceding actions and preparation required prior to the date fixed.  

 The Position of the Parliamentarians

The claim/demand to reconvene the parliament appears to be a move to appease the party supporters of the constituent parties in the UNFGG who are tormented by the surprise move of dethroning their leader. Those who advocate and ostensibly hang on to such a ruse are doing so only to help the supporters to overcome their shock. They know very well that there are provisions clearly enshrined in the constitution empowering the President to prorogue the Parliament.

Prorogation of the Parliament is nothing new to Sri Lanka. From 1947 the Parliament has been prorogued about 50 times. After the New Republican constitution in 1978, 25 sessions of the Parliament have been prorogued. Parliament has been reconvened during the period of prorogation in 1958 by Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke to declare a state of emergency. But for reasons best known to them certain foreign countries have expressed their concern about the recent prorogation. 

The subject has been raised in the British parliament and some members in the House of Commons have expressed views about the removal of Ranil Wickramasinghe as the Prime Minister. They have to be informed that what the country has done is appointing a new Prime Minister due to the ceasing of the office of the Prime Minister under certain provisions of our written Constitution unlike in Britain.

 This exercise as follows;

Due to the sudden withdrawal of the main constituent party UPFA deciding to withdraw from the National Government , it became necessary for the President to reconstitute the Cabinet in line of the Constitutional provisions of limiting it to 30 members from the current numbers exceeding the maximum number that could be accommodated under a normal coalition government. Arising out of this situation ,exercising his powers under Article 43(3) of the 19th amendment adopted under the Ranil Wickramasinghe Government, the President has taken steps to change the assignment of subjects, and functions and composition of the  Cabinet of Ministers as required under the constitutional provisions. 

But according to Article 46(2) The Prime Minister shall continue to hold office only during the period which the Cabinet of Ministers continues to function. Therefore when the Cabinet is reconstituted the office of the PM ipso- facto ceases.

Then according to Article 42(1), the President shall appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament, who, in the President’s opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament.

Perhaps those expressing contrary views may be unaware of these legal provisions enshrined in our constitution.

Some of the foreign countries concerned about our issues have their own issues unsettled.  Canada is still debating about the pros and cons of Prorogations. The country is still debating about inconsistent precedents regarding earlier prorogations. 

Mr. Ajit Perera MP who is the spokesman of the UNP showed Erskine Mays Volume in a media conference to give  the impression that the former British Constitutional theorist Erskine May holds a different view about our situation in his book ,Parliamentary Practice. But this is what he has stated;

“The prorogation of parliament is a prerogative act of the Crown.” He has further stated in his 24th edition “The effect of a prorogation is at once to suspend all businesses including committee proceedings until parliament shall be summoned again, and to end the sittings of parliament….”

Ironically, Mr. Ajith Pereras’ references remind us about his exhaustive intervention and  effort to include some irrelevant foot notes into the final COPE report  on the Central Bank Bond Scam which everybody knew was aimed to whitewash the sordid episode!

The Indian situation is slightly different due to specific provisions in the Constitution .The President who has the power to prorogue has to, in exercising this power act on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The very fact that such a clause is included shows that without such a clear directive there is no necessity to consult anyone before exercising the power to prorogue. This is our situation.

Mr. Ajit Perera has to be reminded about the exercise of the powers under the advice of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe in dissolving the parliament suddenly on the day the 1st COPE report on the Bond Scam was to be tabled!  No consensus was sought in that exercise but relied entirely on the Constitutional powers disregarding all ethical and just issues associated as unhealthy consequences of that dissolution.

Constitution of Sri Lanka before and after all the amendments clearly provided the powers to the President to remove the Prime Minister.

In the 1978 Constitution it is provided for the removal of the Prime Minister by the President with the issue of a letter to that effect under his hand.

In the amended version (19A) article 48(1) the circumstances under which the Prime Minister ceases to hold office are given as; By removal from office; Resignation OR otherwise.

Removal from office is the same power given to the President under the amended constitution more fully elaborated in the previous constitution.

It is therefore clear that the removal and appointment of a Prime Minister and the prorogation of the parliament are acts in perfect conformity with constitutional provisions.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    “It is therefore clear that the removal and appointment of a Prime Minister and the prorogation of the parliament are acts in perfect conformity with constitutional provisions.”
    It is therefore clear that you’re a scumbag tom-tom beater for the gutter network Sirasa and you act in perfect conformity with the Satanic Kili Maharaja’s interests.

  • 3

    R T
    Good explanation; factual. There is unnecessary foreign interference and influence.

    • 5

      So our greatest banker turned MMC / fake Sirasa Bondscam expert is now also a constitutional lawyer!
      The problem here is why all this was done in secret. Why was Mahinda sworn in before Ranil was “sacked”? Clearly it was a conspiracy. This is not the way things are done in a democracy. We are back to thuggish Rajapaksa days, and many thanks to the writer for throwing off the sheepskin he wore all this time.
      Your motives are so very clear now, Rusiri. Shame on you.

  • 2

    Is this Prorogation a unique situation that happened only withthis govt at this time ? Why all the Western govts and EU came and talked to Karu Jayasooriya. that is interfering in other countries political affairs ? IT looks they want the Parlaiment speaker as a Western agent or their CAT PAW.

  • 4

    Rusiripala Tennakoon is sounding like lessor baba than the Baba he is defending, the New King. Rusiripala Tennakoon pretending to all that New King did everything normal. But, he just have had to go bathroom urgently so he prorogued the parliament and went, so he will be back soon.

    Parliament is prorogued because a war criminal is appointed as new PM and he has no minority support; he has no parliament support; so, until the donkey trading is completed, the parliament is illegally prorogued. It is illegal because bribing in any matter of government activities is illegal. If that is denied, Parliament could have been prorogued after PM is confirmed so while parliament is in vacation he could have finished his cabinet appointments. President is allowed prorogue parliament only to legal purposes. But this proroguing is one of his actions in the sequence of completing his constitutional coup.

    President agreed to cut down his authority and even promised to abolish his position. He evaded it only to break the promise and becoming a second term President. President fell apart with political party partner by his ill-conceived greed to break his promise. This forced him to blame a crime committed in CB with his full blessing, on Ranil, Ravi & Mahendran while he was expected to take the responsibility for that. He dissolved the parliament to save him from the DEW commission report accusing him. To save him out of CB, he forced Ravi to leave Cabinet. He banned Sandaruwan Senadheera’s publications. He shut off Ranil’s brother’s TV station. These all forced him to connect these incidents to Russian Ship scandal. There he fired Admiral Chinnaih- CSD. Then he appointed another criminal Ravindra as CSD. To cover that crime and save Navy Sampath, he sent CSD Mexico to avoid his arrest. Then he appointed undesirable Thero as an Ambassador to cover Russian ship deal.

  • 1

    End of the day, though these all were connected his part in the CB, in his statement to public he did not mention any one this but he mentioned the report of PCoI. What about PRECIFAC on Old King’s crimes? He did not mention in his statement that.
    It appears he planned to pick up on Ranil somewhere May 2016. He then dismissed Dilrukshi to cover up the soldiers’ crime. He covered not investigating the Army coup Dinesh Mentioned in the parliament. Then he directly started to target Ranil. He demanded Ranil to resign. He consulted AG and Supreme Court how to dismiss him. He attempted to split UNP and use Karu and Vaalaiththodam Jr. against Ranil. He campaigned against Ranil in LG election. He failed in NCM. He falsely took complain of Ranil to PM Modi and got back badly on that. He ordered all defense chiefs not to corporate with AG, IGP SC on the investigations. Though he hid all these in his statement, but they are evident of his long brewing illegal constitution coup against PM. BBC’s today news is having line of explanation of why he ended in planning a coup. Coup normally used by junior officers against senior officers. New King sought that because in BBC, Dr.NJ had explained to BBC that 90% of the EP’s powers are transferred to PM through 19A. That handicap feeling in dismissing the PM has made New King to seek this underhand method.
    He illegally dismissed PM, where there are no power vested with him to do that. To adjust that in Parliament he initiated Donkey Trading. To buy out time to that process, he prorogued the parliament. They killed 150,000 innocent Tamils and said to IC it was Zero casualty. In 2009 IC bought that dupe. But in 2015 they found the truth from OISL report. Now they are telling to IC that their coup is already constitutionalized in 1978. But IC has already consulted real lawyers on that issue instead of bank officers’ opinion.

    • 1

      Donkey trading is part of “democracy”
      You win some and you lose some; that’s the name of the game; other western democracies have prorogued parliaments to avoid “elections”.

  • 1

    So at last the true colours of the Banker turned seudo-activist/seudo-economist! So at last the true colours of Rusiripala is exposed. This is a clear case of “Koheda Yanne? Malle Pol”!

    Before Rusiripala ventures to explain the the constitutionality of the prorogation, He should be looking in totality of the events that led to this constitutional crisis. Constitution (or any other legislation for that matter) is not meant to be interpreted in isolation by picking clauses at one’s whim and fancy and interpreting to suit the agenda of the day. Every piece of legislation must be interpreted taking into consideration all events in totality and also very importantly the “intent of the legislature” when a piece of legislation was passed or amended. Unfortunately the Rusiripala band-wagon also consists of half-baked legal luminaries who prefer to think alike to the lay brain of Rusiripala, despite being very well aware of the basis principles governing interpretation of legislation, once again to suit their narrow agendas.

    So my humble request to the half learned seudo-constitutional expert is: please go seek an opinion from a constitutional expert based on all facts on the table, including the impeachable offence committed by the President, which is the appointment of a PM when a PM was already in office. This forum unlike the Sirasa TV audience, consists of the intelligentsia and your half baked theories and conclusions only have helped this forum to endorse the real character in you behind the activist face! “Illang Kanda Epa Mahaththaya”

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