Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa yesterday declared in Parliament that notices served on him and members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the charges mentioned in the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake were a nullity and entailed no legal consequences.
Delivering his ruling on the issue last evening the Speaker said: “On careful consideration of this matter, I wish to convey to the House my ruling that the Notices issued on me, as Speaker of Parliament, and on the Members of the Select Committee appointed by me, have no effect whatever and are not recognized in any manner.”
Full text of the Speaker’s ruling: “The Honourable Nimal Siripala de Silva, Leader of the House, raised an issue relating to Privilege on the floor of the House this morning. This arose from an event which occurred yesterday.
I found exceedingly helpful the detailed observations which were made on this issue by fifteen Hounourable Members on both sides of the House today. The range and depth of the views expressed during the debate, which I have reflected on, greatly facilitated my task in reaching my decision on the matters brought to my notice by the Honourable Leader of the House.
Notice was served on me yesterday, as Speaker of Parliament and on the Members of the Select Committee appointed by me on 14th of November 2012 to inquire into allegations against the Honourable Chief Justice under Article 107 of the Constitution. I, as the Speaker of Parliament, and the Members of the Select Committee appointed by me have been cited as Respondents in these proceedings.
These were Notices issued by the Court of Appeal, on the direction of the Supreme Court, in the matter of an application for mandates in the nature of Writs of Certiorari, Mandamus, Quo Warranto and Prohibition in terms of Article 140 of the Constitution.
The relief sought in these proceedings includes the following;
a) Issue notice on the Respondents in the first instance
b) Grant and issue a Writ of Certiorari quashing the determination and/or decision of the 1st Respondent to place the said alleged impeachment motion against the Chief Justice dated 01.11.2012 in the Order Paper of Parliament on 06.11.2012
c) Grant and issue a Writ of Certiorari quashing the decision and/or determination of the 1st Respondent to appoint and/or assign a committee made up of the 2nd to 12th Respondents to embark upon a judicial/quazi judicial process of inquiring into the charges against the Chief Justice.
d) Grant and issue a Writ of Certiorari quashing the order and/or decision and/or determination of the 1st Respondent directing the Chief Justice to present herself before the 2nd to 12th Respondents for inquiry by way of a judicial/quazi judicial process.
e) Grant and issue a Writ of Prohibition preventing 1st to 12th Respondents from taking any further actions or steps in connection with the impunged Motion dated 01.11.2012.
f) Grant and issue a Writ of Quo Warranto requiring the 2nd to 12th Respondents to display under what legal warrant or authority they intend to embark upon a judicial/quazi judicial process of inquiring into the alleged charges against the Chief Justice.
g) Grant and issue a Writ of Mandamus directing the 1st Respondent to act in terms of the Law contained in Article 107 (3) to formulate and adopt Laws/Standing Orders establishing a lawful and constitutional process governing the impeachment of a judge of the Appellate Courts, that is not in violation of specifically Article 4 ( c ) of the Constitution.
h) Grant and issue Interim Orders;
I. Restraining the 1st Respondent and/or agents and/or officers serving under him from taking any further steps in connection with the said impeachment motion dated 01.11.2012.
II. Restraining the 2nd to 12th Respondents and/or agents and/or officers serving under them from taking any further steps pursuant to the notice summoning the Chief Justice dated 15.11.2012.
I wish to explain to the House the basis of my ruling.
In appointing this Committee, I have acted as Speaker in pursuance of the powers vested by me by Article 107 of the Constitution.
The Members of the Committee appointed by me are responsible solely and exclusively to me as the Speaker. No person, or institution outside Parliament has any authority whatsoever to issue any directive either to me as Speaker or to Members of the Committee appointed by me.
This is a mater which falls exclusively within the purview of Parliament’s authority. The established law in this regard was exhaustively surveyed by my distuingished predecessor, the late Honourable Anura Bandaranaike, in his historic ruling delivered in this august House on 20th June,2001.
It is clear from this rurling that the matters concerned fall within the exclusive domain of Parliament, and that no intervention in any form by any external agency is consistent with the established principles of law, and is therefore to be rejected unreservedly as an unacceptable erosion of the powers and responsibilities of Parliament.
I am happy to note that a broad consensus emerged in the course of debate on the central issue requiring my decision. I would like to make particular mention of the view, clearly expressed by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition in the course of his intervention, that the purported Notices constitute an unwarranted interference with the powers and procedures of Parliament, and are invalid. This was stated with great clarity by the Honourable Joseph Michael Perera as well.
On careful consideration of this matter, I wish to convey to the House my ruling that the Notices issued on me, as Speaker of Parliament, and on the Members of the Select Committee appointed by me, have no effect whatever and are not recognized in any manner.
I declare that the purported Notices, issued to me and to the Members of Select Committee are a nullity and entail no legal consequences.
I wish to make is clear that this ruling of mine as Speaker of Parliament, will apply to any similar purported Notice, Order of Determination in respect of the proceedings of the Committee which will continue solely and exclusively under the authority of Parliament.”
By Saman Indrajith