Parliamentary prorogation; a move to remove heads of COPE, COPA, PFC?
Posted on December 16th, 2021

Courtesy The Daily Mirror


Prorogation of Parliament by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sparked a political debate with many interpreting it in different ways. It appears to have caused dissension within the government with MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa being skeptical about the move and making remarks openly.
 Every President who served in the past prorogued Parliament, but the timing of the present prorogation with no logical reason left the scope for interpretation of it in different ways. What is plausible is that it was done to get rid of the heads of some vital parliamentary committees.


 The president, in terms of powers vested with him under Article 70 of the Constitution, prorogued the House. He has only discharged a constitutional function in this instance.  However, one should examine what prorogation means and its impact on parliamentary businesses. Then only a plausible picture can be figured out.   
 A prorogation which is nothing but a recess of Parliament for a short period, and it should not extend to a period of more than two months. According to an article placed on the official website of Parliament, the Proclamation related to the prorogation of Parliament should notify the date for the commencement of the new Session of Parliament under Paragraph (3) of Article 70 of the Constitution.

“One school of thought, which is also mooted by the opposition, is that the House was prorogued to get rid of the heads of these two bodies, since their performance in the examination of the financial activities of certain state institutions portrayed the government in the negative light”

The president has fixed January 18 as the day of the next sitting.  Prorogation has its effects on the businesses of the House.  All businesses pending before the House lapse in the event of prorogation.
All matters which having been duly brought before Parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation of Parliament, may be proceeded with during the next Session,” Paragraph (4) of Article 70 of the Constitution says.  
 
Besides, the committees which perform vital functions in Parliament cease to exist in the event of prorogation except the Committee on High Posts, Consultative Committees and Select Committees.
The committees that lapse  upon prorogation are  the Committee on Parliamentary Business, the Committee on Standing Orders, the House Committee, the Committee on Ethics and Privileges, the Legislative Standing Committee, the Ministerial Consultative Committees, the Committee on Public Accounts(COPA), the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPA), the Committee on Public Finance , the Committee on Public Petitions  and the Backbencher Committee.

“Every President who served in the past prorogued Parliament, but the timing of the present prorogation with no logical reason left the scope for interpretation of it in different ways. What is plausible is that it was done to get rid of the heads of some vital parliamentary committees”

Prorogation is nothing new. According to parliamentary records outlined on the official website Parliament had been prorogued about 50 times to date since 1947 and more than 25

Professor Tissa Vitharana

Sessions since 1978. The first Parliament commenced on September 7, 1978 had Seven Sessions until its dissolution on December 12, 1988.
The Second Parliament commenced on March 9, 1989 had five Sessions until its dissolution on June 24, 1994.  The third Parliament commenced on August 25, 1994 had three Sessions until its dissolution on August 18, 2000.


The fourth Parliament commenced on October 10, 2000 had three sessions until its dissolution on October 10, 2001. The fifth Parliament which commenced on December 19, 2001 had two Sessions until its dissolution on February 9, 2004.
Starting from April 22, 2004 the Sixth Parliament had four Sessions until February 9, 2010.
The Seventh Parliament started on April 22, 2010 had only one Session until June 26, 2015.  The eighth Parliament commenced on September 1, 2015 and had four Sessions until its dissolution on March 2, 2020. The 9th Parliament or the current Parliament commenced on August 20, 2020 and had one Session to date. When the House is reconvened after prorogation, the second session of the ninth Parliament will begin.

” In the wake of the latest prorogation, a spotlight is shone on the works done by COPE and the COPA as watchdog committees that examines financial performance of the state institutions. The COPE and the COPA uncovered a lot of irregularities in the state institutions”

In the wake of the latest prorogation, a spotlight is shone on the works done by COPE and the COPA as watchdog committees that examines financial performance of the state institutions.  The COPE is headed by ruling party MP Dr. Charitha Herath and COPA by Government MP Prof. Tissa Vitarana.  These two bodies have to be reconstituted once Parliament is reconvened for its next session by the president on January 18, 2022.  The COPE and the COPA uncovered a lot of irregularities in the state institutions.     
One school of thought, which is also mooted by the opposition, is that the House was prorogued to get rid of the heads of these two bodies, since their performance in the examination of the financial activities of certain state institutions portrayed the government in the negative light. Another committee that will cease to function is the Public Finance Committee which is headed by MP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa.


 MP Yapa said he could not fathom as to why the House was prorogued without any valid reason at the moment.  When the House is reconvened, this committee has to be reconstituted. Probably, MP Yapa is concerned whether he will get his post or not.   
 In the opening of the new session, the president will get the opportunity to make a policy statement in the House.  Wonder, prorogation is done to remove the heads of the vital committees or for the president to make a policy statement from the Chair of Parliament envisaging a new plan to address current issues of the country.

2 Responses to “Parliamentary prorogation; a move to remove heads of COPE, COPA, PFC?”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    If one looks at the performance of the Parliament during the last one year or more, it is not difficult to understand the reason for prorogueing the parliament. They were behaving like a bunch of rabid dogs and constantly barking at each other. The Speaker of the Parliament was no more than a spineless gutter snipe unable to control the denizens within. There must be more discipline within the parliament. People do not elect these people as their representatives to mis-behave and make a mockery of the higherst pillars of the nation – the Parliament Much of what pass off as debate is not suitable – even for adults only. Most of the rhetoric is for the consumption of the low minded nimcompoops in the sensation seeking idiotic public. Behind a veil of parliamentary priviledge base untruths are uttered without any let or hindrance .

    In the past the Parliament proceedings were not open to the public. If things continue to happen in this fashion it far better to stop the live coverage of the parliament and only the relevant clips passed off into the public domain. The role played by the opposition during the Covid-19 pandemic has all being negative and little or nor corporations.

    Prof Tissa Vitharana – the out of sync professor is smarting from not receiving a Cabinet Ministerial posting and not having an audience to listen to his out of date professorial advice. He claims he is a Virologist or similar! His only reason for fame is his relationship to N M Perera. That is all one could say of his bickering!

    The COPE and COPA committees have been performing well and should be re-constituted with the same Chairmen and the same investigations they were conducting should be allowed to proceed without ‘missing a step’! Public has been following these proceedings and any machinations to stop these investigations will not be found favour by the public.

  2. aloy Says:

    At a time the whole world is worried about an ‘Omicron’ variant and the so called top medical experts scratching their heads thinking what to do, our citizens in the country are going about their business as usual. Why?. I believe they intuitively know that they have protection from our environment (and perhaps Devas, too) that has protected them for millennia. Yesterday I was in Negombo, which to my mind is one of the wealthiest region of our country (and this tells me why there was terrorist attacks on 4/21 there) and I found everything was going on even more than usual. They seem not worried about instructions our two penny medical heads issue based on the ‘political agendas’.

    There is no time to waste thinking as to what to do to take the country from the abyss to which it is falling. Just disregard the instructions coming out from where ever to further complicate the matters for the country that belongs to you and me and not to any ME sheik. A committee should decide what should happen next with regard to finances. If illegal instructions detrimental to the wellbeing of the country are issued these should immediately be challenged in courts and as we have found the law enforcement agencies obey the ruling.
    This is the way to go, for the time being!.

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