Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice to face impeachment motion

[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 November 2003, 12:24 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice of the Supreme Court , Mr.Sarath N.Silva, is to face an impeachment motion in parliament shortly, according to a decision taken by the United Front National (UNF) government, ruling party parliamentary group sources said Sunday.

The motion will be included in the Order Paper in parliament on 6th November. The government parliamentary group sources claimed that it has already received the signatures of required number of parliamentarians to move the impeachment as required by Sri Lanka's Constitution.

UNF's move comes in the wake of a decision of the Supreme Court last week to send its determination on the petition of the President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge on November 4 Tuesday to her under seal. The five members Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Mr.Sarath Silva (Chairman) and Justices Ms Shiranee Bandaranaike, Hector S.Yapa, Silva and Nihal Jayasinghe held the inquiry into the petition, political sources said.

Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge has sought in her petition a ruling on the constitutionality of the regulations made by the UNF government Defence Minister to retire Commissioned Officers of the Sri Lanka Army at the age of 55. The reference was made under Article 129 of the Constitution to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court on a question of law relating to the exercise of executive powers including the defense of Sri Lanka.

The UNF government decided to move impeachment motion on Chief Justice Mr.Sarath N.Silva after considering his position he adopted when examining the President’s petition last week. The Chief Justice said at the inquiry that the Article 4 of the Constitution clearly states that the President shall exercise the executive power of the people including the defense of Sri Lanka, according to a specific reference to the defense in the constitution.

“You can’t get past Article 4 of the Constitution, otherwise it ‘s like the tail wagging the dog,” remarked the Chief Justice Mr.Sarath Silva in reply to the submission by the Attorney General Mr.K.C.Kamalasabeyson. Mr.Kamalasabeyson said in his submission that the president is not a minister and under the constitution, she has been provided with a machinery to exercise these powers. There is a minister of defense and he is entitled to make regulations. The role of the minister is different from the role of the President, AG stressed in his submission.

In short, Ms.Kumaratunge was determined to get a ruling from the Supreme Court as to who has the executive power over the nation’s security, the Executive President or the Defense Minister, to retake the defense ministry in the coming weeks, political sources speculate.


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