by Shamindra Ferdinando-July 12, 2017, 12:00 pm
Attorney-at-law Kodituwakku (left) handing over a petition signed by over 100 lawyers to Randeniya, Secretary to the BASL on Wednesday
More than 100 members of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) have signed a petition requesting the association’s President U. R. de Silva, PC, to summon a Special General Meeting to request Chief Justice Priyasath Dep to appoint a full bench comprising ten Supreme Court judges to decide on the constitutionality of appointing defeated candidates through respective National Lists of political parties.
Special General Meeting can be summoned by BASL President or five members of its executive committee or 100 members of the association.
Nagananda Kodituwakku, Attorney-at-Law (Sri Lanka) & Solicitor (UK) yesterday handed over the petition to Amal Randeniya, Secretary, BASL.
Having handed over the petition, Kodituwakku told The Island that he had received an assurance that the matter would be taken up next Saturday (July 15).
He said he had sought the intervention of the BASL membership after having failed to convince office bearers to intervene.
Kodituwakku has asked for the BASL’s backing against the backdrop of Chief Justice Dep and his predecessor K. Sripavan rejecting his pleas made following the last parliamentary general election in Aug 2015.
In a petition filed in the Supreme Court, Kodituwakku named Deputy Speaker Tilanga Sumathipala, Mahinda Samarasinghe, S.B. Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Angajan Ramanathan, A. M. H. M. Lebbe, Vijith Wijayamuni Zoysa, M. H. M. Navavi, Sunil Handunetti and Bimal Ratnayake as those who had been defeated at the last general election but accommodated through the National Lists of the UPFA, UNP and the JVP.
Kodituwakku in a communiqué to members of the BASL alleged that the enactment of the Article 99A (National List provision) of the Constitution on May 4, 1988 through the 14th Amendment by fraudulent means had deprived the people’s sovereign right of franchise as it enabled the appointment of defeated candidates.
Alleging that the due process hadn’t been followed in the enactment of the controversial Article 99A, Kodituwakku asserted the Executive and the Legislature had compelled the judiciary to act according to the Executive’s wishes.
The BASL bid was meant to revisit the circumstances under which the Supreme Court during Parinda Ranasinghe’s tenure as the Chief Justice had received a request from the then President JR Jayewardene seeking its determination of constitutionality of a different distorted 14A submitted in place of Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC)-approved 14A that made no reference to defeated candidates.
According to records available in Parliament, the 12-member PSC appointed on July 6, 1983 under the then Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa’s leadership hadn’t recommended appointment of those who were rejected by the electorate to parliament under any circumstances.
Bench of five judges namely, H D Tambiah, O S M Seneviratne, H A G De Silva, G P S De Silva and M Jameel appointed by CJ Ranasinghe to determine the constitutionality of the distorted 14A, decided that it didn’t require endorsement at a referendum.
PM Premadasa had, according to parliamentary proceedings on May 4, 1988, raised the issue of two bills on 14 in circulation in House.
Premadasa pointed out that the one that had been sent to the Supreme Court was different from what was approved in parliament that didn’t make any reference to defeated candidates.
Kodituwakku has, in a detailed communiqué requested the BASL to take up National List issue with the CJ as soon possible in accordance with its own Constitution. The copies of the same letter has been forwarded to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, European Commission and UK’s Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP