President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Attorney at Law, Upul Jayasuriya has questioned that whether the Sc opinion on on ‘whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa has any legal barrier to contest for a third term’ was leaked to the state media well before the opinion was handed over to the President on Monday November 10.
Speaking to the Sunday Leader Mr, Jayasuriya has expressed his concerns that although the SC opinion was to hand over to the President on Monday the 10th, the state media gave prominent coverage on the matter and every detail of the SC proceeding came to light by Sunday November 9. This situation cannot be considered lightly, he has added.
Jayasuriya said that the state media not only revealed the exact number of written submissions received by the SC, but also highlighted how many were against, and for the proposal.
Earlier, the President sought the SC opinion whether he as the incumbent President has any impediment to contest for a third term after completing four years of his second term in office and to declare by proclamation the intention of appealing to the people for a mandate to hold office as President by election for a further term; and whether in terms of the provision of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, he has any impediment to be elected as President for a further term in office.
Jayasuriya queried how could the details of the written submissions given to the SC was leaked to the state media when the case was taken up behind closed doors and the proceedings were held in camera in connection with the said reference. “The Registrar of the SC on the directives of the Chief Justice (CJ) sent a letter to me on Wednesday November 5 at 3 p.m. requesting me to inform the BASL membership to tender written submissions on the constitutionality of President Mahinda Rajapaksa contesting for a third term by 3 p.m. on Friday November 7. We didn’t have enough time to send the written submission within few hours as Thursday was a Poya day. The BASL membership wanted me to seek more time and to request the SC to hear the case in open court where they could file the written submissions at the end of the hearing. However, the BASL request was not considered and the proceedings were held behind closed doors,” Jayasuriya added.
According to Jayasuriya, although an oral hearing could have been offered by the SC in terms of Article 129 (1) of the Constitution as has been done in the past, the proceeding took place behind closed doors.
“It is said that this hearing held in camera and the opinion was to deliver to the President on Monday November 10. However we were puzzled how the state media gave the accurate details of the submissions on Sunday November 9. For the first time in the legal history, a full Bench was constituted with all Judges of the Supreme Court to give their opinion on the matter and we want the courts to investigate how these details were leaked to the media,” Jayasuriya said. According to Jayasuriya, the state media accurately informed the public that 34 written submissions were made to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, of which 32 submissions were in favour of the President contesting the next Presidential election for a third term while two were against the proposal.
“This news report even carried the names of some who have sent their written submissions. If there was no one else other than the full Bench and it was held in camera, this reporter has no way to get the names of those who submitted the submissions and whether they were in favour of the President from camera footages. Hence now it is up to the SC to complain this to the CID and to hold an investigation in to the issue.” Jayasuriya claimed