AG’s opinion on President’s tenure SLPP files RTI asking whether it was sought

29 May 2019 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Lahiru Pothmulla   

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has submitted a right to information (RTI) application to the Presidential Secretariat asking whether the President or anyone on behalf of him sought legal advice from the new Attorney General Dappula de Livera on the tenure of President  Maithripala Sirisena.   


SLPP Chairman Professor G.L. Peiris yesterday said the RTI application was sent to the Information Officer at the Presidential Secretariat.   


Speaking at a news briefing, he said SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekera made a statement to the effect that the opinion of the Supreme Court would be sought on the question when President Maithripala Sirisena’s term of office  would expire.   


“Mr. Jayasekera argued that since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which reduced the President’s term from six years to five was certified by the Speaker on May 15th, 2015, the President’s term of office commenced on that date. Mr. Jayasekera added that legal advice was being sought on this issue. Mr. Jayasekera also stated that the opinion of the Supreme Court would be sought only after the appointment of the new Chief Justice. Chief Justice Nalin Perera was due to retire from that office on April 28th. On April 26th, the Constitutional Council approved the recommendation of President Sirisena that Jayantha Jayasuriya be appointed as the Chief Justice,” he said.   


In his application, Professor Peiris asked whether on or about April 8th, or at any time before or after such date, President Sirisena or anyone on his behalf or at his request sought legal advice from Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya over the expiry date of President’s tenure.   


“I did not inquire what advice, if any, was provided, or the content of any communication received from the Attorney General or any officer assisting the Attorney General which, of course, is privileged, but whether advice was sought from the Attorney General’s Department when Jayantha Jayasuriya is serving as Attorney General,” he said.   


“This is a matter of grave national importance in view of Mr. Jayasekera’s statement that the President would be seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court only after Chief Justice Nalin Perera retired and after the new Chief Justice was appointed; a delay which is inexplicable if the question of law “is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it” (Article 129),” Prof. Peiris said.   


Meanwhile, he said the Election Commission Chairman has informed the President that the nominations for the presidential election should be called before October 20 and the presidential election should be held on a date between November 15 and December 08.   


“Too many elections have already been postponed. We won’t allow the government to postpone the presidential election as well,” he said.   

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