Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that there were no judicial powers entrusted to the Parliamentary Select Committee investigating charges in the Impeachment Motion against the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court could not issue notices on the Speaker or the PSC members. Wickremesinghe, participating in an exchange of views, soon after Leader of the House, Irrigation Minister Nimal de Silva raised a privilege issue on notices issued by the Supreme Court, on the Speaker and PSC members said: “Most people were saying here that there were three pillars of power but they are wrong. The people are sovereign under the Constitution. Whether you like it or not this Constitution was created based on the theories of J. R. Jayewardene and not Montesquieu.”
Wickremesinghe also commenting on a possible serious conflict between the legislature and the judiciary said that in his opinion there were three ways to overcome this problem.
Ensure the independence of the judiciary; safeguard the rights and powers of Parliament and allow the CJ to a fair trial, where she can defend herself in a fair manner.
“Let the judiciary function independently while we carry out our duties. No one can send us notices and there is a clear cut ruling given by late Speaker Anura Bandaranaike on a similar matter and what we have to do is follow that.”
The members of government and Opposition were engaged in a seventy-five minute-long debate on the privilege issue raised by the Leader of the House Nimal on notice issued on the Speaker and members of the PSC.
John Amaratunga (Chief Opposition Whip): Today, the country is watching how the government is handling the issue with regard to the Chief Justice. The work of the Parliamentary Select Commute is to look into the evidence and submit a report to the Speaker. It has no jurisdiction beyond that. This is a historic moment and the Speaker has a historic role to play. You must remember that whatever decision you take will be for posterity.”
Joseph Michael Perera (UNP): The Supreme Court has no right to tell the Parliament how to do its job. It’s very clear. I do not think it has any power to summon the Speaker or any member of the PSC.
Prof. G. L. Peiris (UPFA): The Speaker must take steps to uphold the privileges of the House. This is contempt of Parliament. Many MPs who spoke did not understand the privilege issue that was raised. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike has shown us what we should do. You have to follow that path.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara (UPFA): The court should not have given leave to proceed for these writ applications, in the first place, as it is a mandate within Parliament and the judiciary cannot get involved in matters and powers of the judiciary. The Court should mind its business and let Parliament do its own.
Dr. Rajith Senaratna (UPFA): If the judiciary thinks the PSC is infringing on its powers, then it should have challenged this. This law was enacted in 1984 so they had plenty of time to do so
By Saman Indrajith