With the Legislature and the Judiciary now clashing head on amidst ugly scenes and outrageous attacks making a mockery of the whole process of governance, the non-party national movement for social justice has again appealed that the root cause of this and other crises needs to be addressed urgently.
Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha Nayaka Thera who heads the movement told a news conference that the all-powerful executive presidency needed to be abolished because democracy itself was now facing its worst-ever threat in the aftermath of the absolute powers given to the executive presidency.
Last week the crisis over the motion to impeach Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake took dramatic, drastic and dangerous turns. Several petitions were filed in the Court of Appeal challenging the constitutional validity of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to probe the 14 charges in the impeachment motion. The Court of Appeal referred these petitions to the Supreme Court for a ruling on the constitutional validity of the PSC. The 1978 Constitution says quite clearly that while Parliament is the supreme law-making body, the Supreme Court is the sole institution with the power to give rulings on whether the laws are in line with the Constitution. A three-member Supreme Court bench last Wednesday recommended that it would be prudent for the common good of all for the PSC probe to be put off till the SC made a final decision on the petitions. But the next day House Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva raised a point of order saying interference by any other institution in the work of Parliament was a breach of privilege. Many others in Parliament also expressed similar views.
The Speaker last Thursday gave a strong ruling that the PSC appointed by him, would continue with the probe on the impeachment motion, and any rulings, recommendations or notices issued by any other body, meaning the Supreme Court were null and void.
Ignoring or undeterred by the Speaker’s ruling, the SC went ahead with its inquiry and on Monday the three-judge bench gave the petitioners leave to proceed with their petitions. Judges and Magistrates from all over the country also came to Colombo for a special crisis meeting with independent observers and analysts wondering where all this would end up.
President Rajapaksa, who has been somewhat quiet on this crisis though he is apparently orchestrating the whole process, spoke out last Friday. He alleged that something like a coup was being hatched in Hulftsdorp, but vowed he would defeat it just as he had defeated the LTTE terrorists. Instead of tough talk the President needs to rise to the level of a statesman and initiate the process of abolishing the Executive Presidency before it is too late and the country ends up like a bankrupt Congo or Ruwanda.