FR challenging appointment of Ranil as MP: SC to deliver order today

The Supreme Court yesterday fixed for today to announce the order whether or not to allow the hearing of the Fundamental Rights petition filed against UNP leader and Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe to abolish his position as a Member of Parliament.

This petition was filed by Vinivida Foundation General Secretary Nagananda Kodithuvakku alleging that the Fundamental Rights of the people of this country are being violated appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as a National List Member of Parliament.

The petition was taken up before a panel of Supreme Court Justices comprising Gamini Amarasekara, Shiran Gunarathne and Janak de Silva.

This petition sought to issue an Interim Order preventing Ranil Wickremesinghe from acting as a Member of Parliament and voting.

While considering the petition, the Bench’s attention was drawn in the first instance to the fact that the petitioner did not send notices regarding the petition to the other respondents except the Attorney General.

President’s Counsel Ronald Perera appearing for respondent Ranil Wickremesinghe stated that he had not received any documents in this regard.

Deputy Solicitor General Kanishka De Silva appearing on behalf of the Attorney General stated that she expected to submit preliminary objections regarding this petition.

Following that, petitioner Nagananda Kodithuvakku presented facts regarding the petition and said that respondentRanil Wickramasinghe, contested the last election and was defeated, and then he is sitting in parliament as a member from the National List.

He highlighted that the basic principles of the constitution of a country are based on the supremacy of law and no person can be appointed to the Constituent Assembly of this country without the sovereignty of the people. He also mentioned that it is illegal for a person who lost the people’s vote to be elected to Parliament.

The Bench pointed out that according to the number of votes received by each party, the respondent Ranil Wickramasinghe was elected to Parliament according to the number of votes received by the United National Party. The bench pointed out that it is one of the legal methods by the Constitution to appoint MPs to Parliament by people’s vote.

The Bench drew attention to the previously filed Fundamental Rights petition which was dismissed, seeking the appointment of UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to Parliament from the National list, as illegal and nullified his appointment.

The petition was dismissed as the petitioner did not appear before the court to make submission on several occasions.

However, the bench allowed the petitioner to present further facts regarding this petition.

Accordingly, the petitioner Nagananda Kodithuvakku mentioned that the provisions of 99(a) of the constitution state that the nominations for the positions of the National List members appointed to Parliament should be submitted within a week after a Parliamentary election.

But he pointed out that Wickremesinghe’s name had been proposed after eight months of the election. He also stated that this appointment has violated the Constitution as well as the Parliamentary Elections Act.

He moved from the court to hear this petition as the court can only intervene in that regard. He also said that he did not hide the facts from the court at any time. He also mentioned that there is a great risk of a person who is not even fit to be a member of parliament being appointed as the executive president of the country and it can have negative effects on the future of the country.

The Petitioner requested the Court to hear the petition saying that this petition was filed not for himself but for the entire society.

Then the Deputy Solicitor General who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General, presented submissions under two points against the petition.

She pointed out that this petition is out of time and that the action of the petitioner is unacceptable.

Also, she pointed out that the respondent Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected to Parliament based on the number of votes the United National Party received in the Parliamentary elections. Accordingly, she mentioned that the facts presented that the voting rights of the people are being violated by this appointment, cannot accept.

She sought from the court to accept these preliminary objections and dismiss the petition.

President’s Counsel Ronald Perera appearing for respondent Wickremesinghe, stated that the Court had previously ordered the petitioner to give proper notice to the respondents regarding this petition, but he had not acted accordingly. He also pointed out that he had hidden the facts from the Court.

He also mentioned that the petitioner has deliberately made efforts to reveal the matter to the court through this petition, even though the petition filed by the petitioner challenging the appointment of his client to Parliament was dismissed.

Also, he pointed out that this petition is out of time as Deputy Solicitor General said. He mentioned that a fundamental rights petition should be submitted within one month of the facts or events that are being challenged. He mentioned that more than a month has passed since Ranil Wickramasinghe was appointed to the Parliament and this petition challenging the appointment was filed after exceeding the prescribed time frame.

Accordingly, he moved from the court to dismiss this petition without hearing it.

After considering the facts presented by all parties, the court ordered to fix the order in this regard for another date.

This Petition has been filed alleging that the appointment of UNP Leader Acting President Ranil Wickramasinghe is completely contrary to the Constitution of the country and thereby violates the fundamental rights of the people of the country.

The Petition has cited twelve persons including Electoral Commission’s former chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, its current chairman, and members, United National Party General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Ranil Wickramasinghe and Attorney General as the respondents.

The Petition says that the National List nominations related to the 2020 Parliamentary elections were presented by political party secretaries. Parliamentary elections were held on August 5, 2020 and the results were announced on August 8. Then chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya, has informed the party secretaries to notify the nominations of the appointees for the national list MP positions held by the parties before the 14th of that month. But the General Secretary of the United National Party and the General Secretary of Ape Jana Bala Party have not given their nominations before the deadline.

United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was defeated at the 2020 General Election from the Colombo District. However, he was appointed to Parliament as a National Member of the United National Party. Both these appointments were made in terms of the powers vested in the Election Commission under Article 99 (b) of the Constitution.

According to Article 99 (b) introduced by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, when a person is appointed to a position of National List MP, the Secretary General of the relevant party must inform the Election Commission of the name of the appointed person within one week. But the Election Commission has been notified for the appointment of these National List MPs after the expiration of the relevant 7-day period.

Accordingly, the Election Commission has violated Article 99 (b) of the Constitution. According to the 14th Constitutional Amendment approved by the Selection Committees, a person whose name is not on the National List cannot be appointed as a National List MP.

Through this entire process, the sovereignty and Fundamental Rights of the people of the country have been violated.

Therefore, the petitions have requested that a notice be issued to the respondents and seek an interim order restraining UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe from acting as a Member of Parliament and voting.

by dailynews sri lanka

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