President’s ‘Stay Order’ directive to Secretaries


Quite correctly, President Maithripala Sirisena at a meeting held with Secretaries of Ministries, at the Presidential Secretariat, allayed all misunderstandings and fears on the interpretations in the ‘Stay Order’ issued by the Court of Appeal; and instructed them to carry on the normal duties, as the ‘Stay Order’ was only restricting the Prime Minister and Ministers functioning in their respective offices.

Here it should be mentioned, Secretaries to Ministries are appointed by the President, to advise and guide the Ministers to carry out the policies of the government, and be Chief Accounting Officers responsible for whatever expenditure. Hence, in the absence of Ministers, the President has the legal right to issue orders and instructions.

Under normal circumstances, if the Secretary does not agree with the Minister, he has every right to bring the matter to the notice of the President and get a ruling. This brings to my mind an interesting incident where, on a certain issue, the Secretary did not agree with the Minister as it was based on political grounds, while the Secretary’s was of national interest. The Secretary, brought this to the notice of the President who summoned meeting, and on hearing the reasoning of both sides reasoning, stood by the Secretary. What happened thereafter, I refrain from relating. This incident is only to show the powers and duties of a Secretary to a Ministry.



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