By Shehan Daniel and Yoshitha Perera
The Court of Appeal yesterday issued notice on Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials to appear before the Court on March 15 and submit objections, after a group of 12 former cricketers, cricket administrators, lawyers and civil servants filed a petition in court seeking its intervention to draft a new constitution at SLC before its next election.
The petitioners include former cricketers Muttiah Muralitharan, Sidath Wettimuny, Michael Tissera and former administrators Vijaya Malalasekera, Kushil Gunasekera, Somasundaram Skandakumar, Ana Punchihewa and Rienzie Wijetilleke.
President’s Counsels Dinal Phillips and Justice (Retd) Saleem Marsoof, civil servant Dr. Palitha Kohona and Corporate Executive Thilan Wijesinghe were also named as petitioners.
“The root cause of the decline of Sri Lankan cricket is its poor governance driven through the flawed Constitution of SLC. The said Constitution has installed a Board which is not independent from its playing Clubs. It is severely conflicted between Club and Country. This system encourages the office bearers to take decisions mostly to satisfy its voter base, causing the playing standards of Sri Lankan cricket to deteriorate,” a media release issued by the petitioners said.
“At this critical juncture, ad-hoc reforms short of a new Constitution for SLC would be a cosmetic exercise. The alarming decline of Sri Lankan cricket can only be arrested through a root and branch governance overhaul of SLC to make the organization “fit for purpose”,” it also read.
The intention of the petitioners was, the statement also read, for the judiciary to intervene to ensure that a new SLC constitution is drafted that will eventually be passed as an act in Parliament.
“We would like the Sri Lankan judiciary to order the Government of Sri Lanka to invoke provisions in the Sports Act of Sri Lanka to form an independent committee of governance experts to draft a brand new Constitution for SLC with input from the International Cricket Council (ICC). We also wish to have this new Constitution passed as an Act of Parliament to avoid any dilution or compromises at the hands of vested interests,” the release said.
The petitioners also highlighted the lack of female representation in the SLC Ex-Co, the disproportionate first class system and the inflated voter base compared to other international cricket nations.
The petition was taken up before Justices Arjuna Obeysekera and Mayadunne Corea.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena with Dr. Milhan Mohamed appeared before the Court of Appeal on behalf of the petitioners instructed by Sudath Perera Associates.