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Kicking aside the Mandate

6 November 2018 12:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The composition cannot change and must remain constant for the entire duration of that Parliament

 

When Members elected to Parliament from one party crossover to another, for whatsoever reason, it is a violation of the mandate received at the hands of the voters, which they are honour and duty bound to protect.


As for honour, there is none and for all their rhetoric of “laying down their lives for the people’, there is no sense of duty.


Members are elected on a party ticket, and not in their individual capacity. A mere look at a ballot paper amply demonstrates this fact.


See a specimen ballot paper above.


Thus, you see that there are two parts. The first and the one on top is your vote. You just vote for a party or group. If you choose not to mark a preference for any candidate or candidates – up to 3 – from that party that you voted for, your vote is still a valid vote.


On the other hand, if you did not vote for a party or group, i.e. not marking your vote in the top section, but only marked a preference for 1, 2 or 3 from the box at the bottom, yours is NOT a valid vote and will be rejected.

 


At the close of the poll, the party or group vote is counted and the number of seats determined, first on a district basis and then totalled up to get the final composition of the Parliament.


At the last General Election the party positions were as follows;


UNP ………………………..  106
UPFA ………………………..   95
TNA ………………………… 16
JVP …………………………… 06
SLMC ……………………..... 01
EPDP…………………………  01


This was how the country voted. This was the final composition of Parliament.


This composition cannot change and must remain constant for the entire duration of that Parliament. If it does not, it is a distortion of the mandate of the people.
 Individual members do not count. If one ceases to be a member of the party, he must necessarily lose his seat to the next in line on the preference vote list.
Let us see the constitutional aspect of this.


Article 99(13) as amended by the 14th Amendment states “Where a member of Parliament ceases, by resignation, expulsion or otherwise, to be a member of a recognised political party or independent group on whose nomination paper his name appeared at the time of his becoming a member of Parliament, his seat shall become vacant upon the expiration of a period of one month from the date of his ceasing to be such a member”


There, however, is a proviso – where a member expelled challenges the validity of his expulsion in the Supreme Court, his seat will fall vacant only upon the Supreme Court holding that his expulsion is valid.


The first test case was the expulsion of Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athlathmudali et al on the Impeachment Motion they brought against the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa – Gamini Dissanayake vs. M.C.M. Kaleel and others.


The dissidents argued that: (a) They were not given a hearing according to the principles of natural justice and (b) that they are entitled to act according to their judgment and conscience.


The apex court held, inter alia, that;


1. The Constitution confers primacy to the political party as against the individual
2. The exercise of Fundamental Rights of speech and expression was subordinate to the requirements of party discipline,
3. The joining of a political party means acceptance of reciprocal obligations Limiting their freedom of speech, and
4. Dissenting opinions should be the subject of internal discussion before being articulated outside.


The next case of MP, Thilak Karunaratne, expelled from the SLFP for publishing a newspaper article, was decided in his favour by a majority decision.


The Supreme Court held that “he had taken every possible step within the party to air his grievance before going public”. The dissenting Judge held that the Court was not empowered to go into the merits of the expulsion.


In the case where Sarath Amunugama et al, having endorsed the Presidential candidature of Ranil Wickremesinghe at the party convention on Sunday, went to Temple Trees on the following  Monday and pledged support to the opponent and thereafter worked toward her victory.


The Court held that there was a “procedural impropriety” in the expulsion process.


The party leadership could very well have re-commenced disciplinary action, adhering to the rules of natural justice, but for unknown reasons, it failed to do so, and are now reaping the bitter fruits of that neglect.


The last case of relevance is that of Basheer Segu Dawood, member of the SLMC, who formed an alliance with another party and faced the polls as the NUA. He was nominated on the National list. The NUA expelled him. The Court held that he was not a member of the NUA but of the SLMC, hence he could not have been expelled by NUA!!


One can see the drift. In all instances, the members affected were in Government when disciplinary action was taken and when the cases went before the court. Somewhere down the line, we seemed to have ‘missed the wood for the trees”.


‘A Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform has recommended a system where the majority of members are directly elected by, and responsible to, a specific electorate, which will not prevent crossovers, but will, at least ensure that the member he be personally answerable to his voters for the decision he made.
A further and more radical step would be to prohibit an MP who crosses over from the Opposition to the Government from accepting Ministerial office during the remainder of the term of the Parliament.” – Constitutional Issues in Sri Lanka – Ruana Rajapakse (2008)


This committee obviously had not considered the lure of filthy lucre, which even then was not something new.


Thus you will see that- let alone one member defying the party whip-if a whole bunch of them desert the party which elected them, (as is happening today), it is a gross distortion and a violation of the mandate of the people.


Today, it’s as bad as it can get, or are we in for more and as the Americans would say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet”. Hail, our “honourable” political prostitutes!!

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