he essence of the special statement made on Sunday by Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was prevented from acting as Prime Minister by the Appeal Court on Monday, was nothing new.
While attempting to find parallels between the dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena on November 9 and dissolution of Parliaments of several other countries under various circumstances, he stressed the need to go for a General Election in order to bring in a stable Government through a fresh composition of Parliament.
Apart from his comparison of dissolution of Parliament in Sri Lanka last month and in other countries in the past is misleading, as the Lawyers for Democracy pointed out, the main point he was attempting to drive home –the need for a General Election- was something that had been canvassed by his group for the past several weeks.Hence, it is puzzling as to how the statement became special.
However, an important aspect that has to be taken into account in his address was his open attempt to influence the Judiciary that had already taken up for Consideration 13 petitions against the dissolution of Parliament by the President.
"An important aspect that has to be taken into account in his address was his open attempt to influence the Judiciary that had already taken up for Consideration 13 petitions against the dissolution of Parliament by the President"
The Supreme Court had heard the submissions on the dissolution on November 12 and 13 and was to resume hearing on December 4 when he made this special statement.
Besides indirectly influencing the case by his comparison of dissolution of Parliament in Sri Lanka and other countries, he made a direct reference to Article 70 (1) of the Constitution as well which is under consideration by the Supreme Court.
A Rajapaksa loyalist might contend that his statement was not sub-judice since many people discuss in the media the issues currently under consideration by the Supreme Court.
Yet, the propriety of a statement by a person who identifies himself as the Prime Minister of the country and more importantly, who is a stakeholder of the said case, is questionable.
On the same day, Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera, who has now teamed up with Rajapaksa, after contesting the Parliamentary Elections in August 2015 under the Elephant symbol of the United National Party (UNP) directly addressed to the Court, while calling for a General Election.
He said that the court had to take into account the current political impasse when it delivered the Judgment.
This was not only influencing the court but also against the court procedures we know. Normally courts are expected to consider only the facts and arguments placed before them, disregarding other happenings outside the courtroom.
These attempts to influence the Court seem to be calculated and not accidental, as posters with slogans Nadukara Hamuduruwane apata ape chandaya denna (Ven. judges, give us our vote- meaning give us a General Election) had sprung up in many parts of the country, while they were making these statements.
Given these developments, what can one expect if such cases are heard when Rajapaksa is in power?
With Rajapaksa loyalists also taking one issue before the Judiciary, the country is waiting for the outcome of three petitions pertaining to the current political quagmire, with bated breath.
"A statement by a stakeholder of the said case is questionable if it was sub-Judice"
Apart from the petition against the dissolution, another one had been filed by the former head of Civil Security Department Sarath Weerasekara, seeking a declaration against the convening of Parliament, in the light of the dissolution of it.
A third one has been filed by Ranil Wickremesinghe who was ousted as Prime Minister by the President on October 26 and 121 other Parliamentarians seeking a declaration preventing Rajapaksa and 48 MPs from functioning as Prime Minister and Ministers.
Already two interim orders have been delivered by the Supreme Court and the Appeal Court, to the disappointment of President Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa.The Supreme Court on November 13 issued an order temporarily suspending the Gazette notification issued by the President dissolving the Parliament, while the Appeal Court issued another order on Monday (December 3) preventing Rajapaksa and another 48 persons from acting as Prime Minister and ministers.
In fact, the submissions before the courts sometimes highly tilted- by the high ranking lawyers in the country on these matters and the interim and final outcomes of these cases would no doubt be highly valuable for the students of law and those interested in politics.
However, very few even among the educated people seem to be looking at them objectively. A large majority is highly politicized and they want to see their point of view is carried by hook or by crook, come what may.
Now a strange situation has been created by the interim orders of the courts and the two no-confidence motions passed in the Parliament against Rajapaksa and his Cabinet. Following the interim order on the Quo-Warranto Writ Petition against Rajapaksa’s purported premiership and his purported ministers, the country is for the first time in the history without a government accepted at least by a section of the Parliament. Earlier, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had announced that neither Wickremesinghe nor Rajapaksa was acceptable as Prime Minister. Yet, he convened the Parliament. After the interim order on the Quo-Warranto Writ Petition also he convened the Parliament on Wednesday. Can the Parliament meet under a situation where there is no government in the country?
" Very few even among the educated people seem to be looking at them objectively."
One has to look forward to one of four scenarios depending on the final outcome of the hearing on the petition against the dissolution of Parliament and the Quo-Warranto Writ Petition. One is a situation where dissolution of the Parliament might be upheld while the legality of the “Rajapaksa government” might also be endorsed by the court. Another situation that might arise is where Dissolution is upheld but the legality of the “Rajapaksa government” is not. Thirdly, the Supreme Court might declare the gazette notification on the dissolution null and void while the “Rajapaksa regime” could be declared legal. Also, there is a possibility of both the dissolution and the legality of the “Rajapaksa government” might be declared invalid. In the first scenario, an immediate general election will be held under a caretaker government headed by Rajapaksa while the second will produce a situation where there is no Parliament as well as a caretaker government. If the third option has to be accepted Rajapaksa would have to rule the country at least until February 2020 without a majority in Parliament. And fourthly, current Parliament would continue but the President would have to appoint a Prime Minister.
Rajapaksa and his Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) will prefer the first scenario –immediate election under Rajapaksa’s caretaker Government- and Wickremesinghe and the UNP will prefer the last option – Parliament continuing with a new Prime Minister.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by President Sirisena will be benefitted only by the third scenario- a Rajapaksa rule without a majority- as Rajapaksa would have to depend heavily on the executive powers of President Sirisena.
The best option for the UNP would be the worst for the President as he would have to appoint a new Premier, most likely from the ranks of the UNP.
He says he would never appoint Wickremesinghe. Now, that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has announced that it would support the UNP to form a Government, can the President reject Wickremesinghe in case all MPs of the two parties request him to do so in writing?
The Constitution says “The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the member of Parliament, who in President’s opinion is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament.”
"These attempts to influence the Court seem to be calculated and not accidental, as posters.. Given these developments, what can one expect if such cases are heard when Rajapaksa is in power?"
It uses the word “shall” and not “may.”Even if such a UNP Government is formed again, needless to say, that only a general election would save the country from the current quagmire, despite it causing the danger of bringing about a hung Parliament again. Though Wickremesinghe says that country can go for an election under a legitimate government, meaning a UNP led government, one cannot give an assurance that the UNP would stick to its words and support a motion in Parliament to dissolve it.
Hence, only the TNA by supporting the UNP to form a Government with a condition to dissolve Parliament can save the day.
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