MUCH ADO OVER NOTHING
Posted on January 3rd, 2013

Editorial ,Courtesy The Daily News 

Never have a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker duo been so forthright, and irrespective of party affiliations there should be general acceptance of the fact that both Chamal Rajapaksa and Chandima Weerakkody call a spade a spade. On Wednesday, the Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody stated that those MPs who appear before the Appeal Court relating to Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) proceedings, are in clear violation of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

He then proceeded to quote chapter and verse. There is no question about it; no notices can be issued on Parliament on something that is strictly within the purview of Parliament, constitutionally — and the Appeal Court that has done so has erred in law, as the Deputy Speaker so cogently explained.

It is the system that is at work, and it is indeed fortuitous that these two gentlemen presiding over parliamentary business, are so business-like in their judgement and the articulation of it. The standoff that civil society has predicted, which ‘experts’ said was going to set off an unprecedented constitutional crisis, did not take place.

What happened instead, was that Parliament took care of its own business, giving the courts, the clearly erring party in this exchange, the leeway to commit the mistake it’s making in cocooned isolation.

Lawyers such as S. L. Gunasekera have pronounced as if in delivery of some kind of god given wisdom that Parliament is not supreme, and that the people are according to our constitution. Which eight year old does not know that the sovereignty is vested with the people in the constitution of Sri Lanka?

That does not derogate from the fact that in matters that concern Parliament, it is the Parliament that has the constitutional right to prevail – – and impeachment hearings concerning Supreme Court judges is one such issue in which clearly, the constitutional right of the Legislature overrides any power that is vested in the Judiciary. Under law, therefore, the elected Legislature prevails over the unelected Judiciary in this matter, and Sumanthiran may stand on his head and say that all three branches of state enjoy equal power and acts as instruments of checks and balances on one another — yet that does nothing to take away from the fact that in this issue, Parliament prevails over the Judiciary, and that’s according to the constitutional document that is the repository of the sovereign rights of the people.

The members of Parliament who as at the time of writing were said to appear before the Appeal Court in response to the court order, are in figurative terms, those who want to slash their noses in order to spite their faces.

How far would these people go to score political points over the government, demeaning their own selves to patently go against the authority granted them in terms of parliamentary privileges, as representatives of the people?

The Speaker’s unequivocal assertion that notices cannot be issued on Parliament by the Courts on what is exclusively a process that pertains to Parliament, goes for the Appeal Court’s delivery of the Supreme Court judgment on the PSC yesterday, as well. The Supreme Court judgment states that the PSC has no right to investigate the Chief Justice on charges made in the impeachment motion, as the relevant Standing Order 78 (A) is not law.

That the constitution states clearly that such an investigative body should be established either by Standing Order or law does not seem to matter to a Supreme Court Bench that has directly flouted the Speaker’s authoritative notice on this matter, which as per parliamentary privileges should be taken judicial notice of.

The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker therefore clearly state that the court has arrogated to itself, powers that are not constitutionally vested in it. This is serious, and legally, the Supreme Court judges are in contempt of Parliament.

However, it is not as if such a pointless ‘standoff’ has not been resolved in the favour of the Parliament before. Speaker Anura Bandarnaike dismissed a similar effort of a then Supreme Court to arrogate to itself powers that it did not enjoy. There was hardly a blip in the radar then; there will be hardly a blip in the radar now as a result of this ‘standoff.’

2 Responses to “MUCH ADO OVER NOTHING”

  1. Marco Says:

    The Daily News Editorial:
    “This is serious, and legally, the Supreme Court judges are in contempt of Parliament.”

    ouch!

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Lack-siri Fernando aka Marco cannot take contempt allegations well!!!

    En-Gee-Oh!

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