GL says he will have to rewrite his books on constitutional law

By Saman Indrajith

SLPP MP and law scholar Prof G. L. Peiris told Parliament yesterday that he might have to rewrite the books that he had written on constitutional law because of the violations of basic norms of democracy taking place under the incumbent regime.

“Unprecedented developments are taking place in this polity. Such developments have never been seen in the democratic world. I taught constitutional law for two generations and my books are still being used to teach the subject in the universities and in the courts. Now, I have to rewrite them because the democratic norms, theories and ethical practices of constitutionalism prescribed therein are blatantly violated in this country now. This is very unfortunate. We must understand this problem without our party differences.

“Infamous Hapuhinne affair is an example. Hapuhinne is an innocent public servant. He issued written orders to all Returning Officers to suspend taking deposits for the election that has been announced. Later, it transpired that he did so on the basis of a directive from the Cabinet. Thereafter, it came to light that the Cabinet has not made such a decision to issue a directive. Hapuhinne within an hour withdrew his order. Once the elections are declared it is the job of the elections commission to make decisions and implement them as per the provisions of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. The Cabinet has no role there. Hapuhinne would have to serve a three-year jail term for this mishap if someone goes before the courts. If the Cabinet Secretary has issued such a letter to Hapuhinne, then the Cabinet Secretary will have to go to jail for three years. Nowhere in a democratic country in this world have such things taken place. The developments that take place in this country today are against all norms and values of democracy.

“We have upheld the Westminster principles of parliamentary traditions since 1931. This legislature has now become a tool in the hands of the executive. The president in this Throne speech made promises with lofty ideals to strengthen parliament, but he acted in the diametrically opposite manner by flattening parliamentary sovereignty.

“So, I will have to rewrite all my books because the norms and values of constitutionalism are no longer valid in this country. Next week, I have a lecture at a university and I will ask students to dump my books in the dustbin because the values envisaged to be in a democracy are no longer valid in practice under this regime.”

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