Former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva said yesterday the President had been vested with powers to dissolve Parliament under 33 (2) C of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
He told Daily Mirror that this special provision was incorporated into the Constitution under duties, powers and functions of the President in accordance with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
He said this special provision says that “in addition to the powers, duties and functions expressly conferred or imposed on, or assigned to the President by the Constitution or other written law, the President shall have the power to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament.
He said the 19th Amendment brought in by the Ranil Wickremesinghe government in 2002, sought to remove the powers of President to dissolve parliament and make provisions that the President can dissolve Parliament only on the basis of a resolution passed with a simple majority in parliament, but this was challenged in the Supreme Court by several petitioners and the SC gave a ruling that it should be approved by a two thirds majority in Parliament and approved by the people in a referendum.
He said the present government amended Article 70 of the Constitution in the manner that the President may by Proclamation, summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament: Provided that the President shall not dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of not less than four years and six months from the date appointed for its first meeting, unless Parliament requests the President to do so by a resolution passed by not less than two-thirds of the whole number of members.
He said when amending Article 70, section 33 (2) C was introduced in the 19th Amendment in 2015 in accordance with the judgment of the SC and added that the prevailing provision of the Constitution was 33 (2) C.
“The President can act on his own in a critical situation or on a resolution approved by the Parliament when dissolving Parliament. This new section was incorporated to evade a referendum,” he said. (Ajith Siriwardane)