Only President has power to summon Parliament - Senior Counsel Lalith Sepala Ratnayake






Senior Counsel Lalith Sepala Ratnayake yesterday said that the President has the power at any time while Parliament stands prorogued by a Proclamation to summon Parliament for an earlier date.

Rathnayake in a statement added that power to prorogue Parliament as well as the power to summon Parliament for an earlier date than the date fixed in the proclamation proroguing Parliament is a power vested exclusively with the President of the Republic and no one else is Constitutionally empowered to exercise such powers.

The full statement: “The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in Article 70 (1) gives the power to the President to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament. With regard to the power of the President to dissolve the Parliament, the proviso to Article 70 limits the power of the President, in that he cannot dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of not less than 4 years and 6 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 (including those not present voting in its favour).

In Article 70 (3) of the Constitution states that a Proclamation proroguing Parliament shall fix a date for the next session not being more than two months after the date of Proclamation.

The President has the power at any time while Parliament stands prorogued by a Proclamation summon Parliament for an earlier date not being less than three days from the date of such Proclamation.

Therefore, unlike the powers of the President in dissolving Parliament there is no fetter under the provisions of the Constitution for the proroguing of Parliament. Except that it cannot be for a period of more than two months after the Proclamation.

In addition to the above stated Article which confers power to the President in Article 33 which deals with the duties, powers and functions of the President. In Article 33 (2) (c) also gives the power to the President to summon, prorogue and dissolve the Parliament.

Therefore, it is very clear that the power to prorogue the Parliament as well as the power to summon the Parliament for an earlier date than the date fixed in the Proclamation proroguing Parliament is a power vested exclusively with the President of the Republic and no one else is constitutionally empowered to exercise such powers.

Even though the Constitution gives Parliament the power to (by resolution with a two third majority) request the President to dissolve Parliament before four and a half years, no such power is given to any other person under the Constitution to even make a request from the President to summon the Parliament before the date mentioned in the Proclamation as the date.

In view of the very clear provisions in the Constitution of the Republic it is very clear that neither Honourable Speaker nor Parliament could decide to advance the date stated in the Proclamation as the date for the next session.

Further, I would sate that no one could or should undermine the Constitution of the Republic being the Supreme Law of the country”.

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