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President can hold office only for 5 years: Counsel

2018-01-12 09:47:04
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Counsel Manohara de Silva PC appearing for the intervenient petitioner Prof. G.L.Peiris on the question of the term of office of incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena, countered the contention of the Attorney General and maintained that under Article 30 (2) of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the President can hold office for a terms of five years.

He said it is not a question of ‘prospectively’ or ‘retrospectively’ on the term of office of the incumbent President.

He submitted that the incumbent President can hold office under the transitional provision 49 in the 19th Amendment subject to the provision of the Constitution as amended by this Act (19th Amendment to the constitution).

He said that section 49 (b), states that the persons holding office respectively, as the President and Prime Minister on the day preceding April 22, 2015 shall continue to hold such office after such date, subject to the provisions of the Constitution as amended by this Act (19th Amendment).

He submitted that if the incumbent President is aggrieved by the reduction of his term of office, he should have come to the Supreme Court under Article 121(1) when the 19th Amendment Bill was presented to Parliament.

The Article reads: The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to ordinarily determine any such question as aforesaid may be invoked by the President by a written reference addressed to the Chief Justice, or by any citizen by a petition in writing addressed to the Supreme Court. Such reference shall be made, or such petition shall be filed, within one week of the Bill being placed on the Order Paper of the Parliament and a copy thereof shall at the same time be delivered to the Speaker. In this paragraph "citizen" includes a body, whether incorporated or unincorporated, if not less than three-fourths of the members of such body are citizens.

He brought to the cognizance of the Court that the President did not invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on the issue at that time when Bill was placed in the Parliament order paper.

He submitted that the 19th Amendment has now been enacted and no person can invoke the jurisdiction for a pronouncement on the Bill as under Article 124 which reads: otherwise provided in Articles 120, 121 and 122, no court or tribunal created and established for the administration of justice or other institution, person or body of persons shall in relation to any Bill, have power or jurisdiction to inquire into, or pronounce upon, the Constitutionality of such Bill or its due compliance with the legislative process, on any ground whatsoever.

He said if the President was aggrieved that his term of office is curtailed, he could have asked for a referendum.

He contended that a term of office can be reduced by a person holding office without affecting the sovereignty of the people but one cannot extend his/her term of office without going for a referendum before the people.

He said there is no question of law or fact or interpretation and it is not a matter of public interest and it is used for political benefit.

Ali Sabry PC, Uditha Egalahewa PC, Kalyananda Thiragama, Krishmal Warnasuriya, and Viran Corea also appearing for different Intervenient petitioners Prof. Tissa Vitharana, Wimal Weerawansa, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, Keerthi Tennekoon of CaFFE, made similar submissions.

The Supreme Court directed the Counsels to hand over their written submissions today (12) before 12 noon. (S.S.Selvanayagam)


  Comments - 11

  • Dhammika Friday, 12 January 2018 10:03

    HALLO , When MS contested the presidential elections in 2015 the term was 6 years . When MS took oaths his period was 6 years in office . This 5 year term applies to the next president elect . The incumbent can serve for 6 years for which he was elected for.

    Reply : 23       42

    umen Friday, 12 January 2018 13:01

    if the 19th amendment start from after 2021 election, then the terms served by previous leaders does not comes under this act and counting of terms starts from 2021, hence MR could run for presidency again

    Reply : 11       24

    shanthapriya Friday, 12 January 2018 13:41

    Absolutely correct. When the next president elected, the very next day he or she can extend his or her term to 6 years by again amending the law with a majority of parliament. likewise we can go ahead. before the election you can promise that i am for 4 or 5 years and go on like that . it is so simple as our president

    Reply : 1       10

    ANTON Friday, 12 January 2018 10:04

    LOOKS LIKE OUR LAW IS ALSO HANGING IN THE BALANCE ..... NOW WHO WILL TAKE THE FINAL DECISION ? GAMMANPILA OR VIMAL ?

    Reply : 8       12

    willowsd Friday, 12 January 2018 12:42

    Let the supreme court spells out their responsibility - no one is above the SC, what all the other baboons want to do is immaterial?

    Reply : 4       11

    ananda Friday, 12 January 2018 13:27

    What the hell is Maitripala so concerned about the period as he is the one wanted term reduced to 4 not latter agreed to 5. shame via DM Android App

    Reply : 2       17

    votyer Friday, 12 January 2018 13:42

    Every Tom Dick and Harry will put in their two cents worth of judicial arguments. At the end its the decision of the supreme court that matters. So, till then lets hear the versions all donkeys at least we can have some entertainment at their expense. Anyway its the 1st time hearing that a law applies in retrospect even-though its specifically not mentioned so in the amendment.

    Reply : 2       6

    Saman Friday, 12 January 2018 14:36

    Five or Six, what's the difference? RW and his thieves runs the country.

    Reply : 5       18

    Dhammika Friday, 12 January 2018 18:20

    RK and RW both the leader and deputy leader has tarnished the image people had for the UNP . Both should respectfully resign ! .

    Reply : 3       11

    Dee Friday, 12 January 2018 15:41

    Looks like we have to get lawyersome from India too. We do have a clear void where professionals are concerned but a highly literate country .

    Reply : 3       2

    Park Friday, 12 January 2018 18:20

    This clearly shows how weak our Minister of Justice and Attorney General have been in drafting the last Constitution. Although the Minister of Justice has been removed the Attorney General is still continuing. What can we expect from an Attorney General and his team if they cannot even draft a Constitution the supreme document of a country. Now the people of Sri Lanka should realize the need for foreign Constitutional Lawyers input in drafting the next Constitution.

    Reply : 4       3

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