Connect with us

News

SJB to challenge 20A in Supreme Court

Published

on

By Akitha Perera

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya was planning to move the Supreme Court against the 20th Amendment (20A) ‘to safeguard the mechanisms introduced by the 19th Amendment to ensure independence of the judiciary and the public service”, Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the SJB head office, in Pitakotte, MP Kiriella said the proposed 20A would deprive the people of their democratic rights and they would to all out to obstruct what he called the government’s march towards dictatorship. The first step in that battle would be going before the Supreme Court against the proposed amendment, Kiriella said.

Kiriella said: “People have not forgotten how they held elections to the Wayamba Provincial Council. There were numerous malpractices and irregularities including the mobilising of police and public service officials to support the ruling party rig that election. The judiciary was also influenced. Those actions paved the way for a public debate and it was agreed that the police, judiciary and public service be made independent.

“It was as a result of that discussion, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was introduced with independent commissions.

All parties voted for it. That amendment introduced independent commissions and a Constitutional Council was set up to make appointments to those commissions. That council had the powers even to reject a name sent by the President.

“What happened thereafter? They brought in the 18th Amendment which concentrated all powers in the hands of the President again. The 17th Amendment was abolished. People asked for strengthening the state institutions and making them independent. As a result we introduced the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to prune down some draconian powers vested of the executive presidency. We re-established independent commissions which ensured democracy. Now, the incumbent government has brought in another amendment to do away with those democratic mechanisms and to consolidate powers in the hands of the president.

The proposed 20th Amendment will vest some powers in the hands of the executive presidency including that to appoint judges. This will pave way for a dictatorship.

One of the excuses they give is that they introduced this amendment to ensure stability of the government. That is a blatant lie. As per the provisions of the proposed amendment, the president could dissolve parliament one year after the formation of a government. Does it ensure stability?

We will go before the Supreme Court and hope that the court will help save democracy in this country,” MP Kiriella said.

SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva also addressed the press.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

About Rs 3 bn paid as OT during past few months

Published

on

Overtime gravy train for CPC refinery workers:

By Saman Indrajith

About Rs. 3,000 million had been paid as overtime for the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery, during the past few months, Parliament was told yesterday.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that he had asked for a detailed report as to whom and on what grounds the overtime payments had been made and it would be submitted to Parliament.

Fielding a question asked by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Wijesekera said instructions had been issued to regulate overtime.

MP Kiriella demanded to know why overtime had been paid to employees of an institution that had been shut down. “There are reports that over Rs 4,000 million has been paid as overtime to the workers of the refinery that was not functioning owing to the non-availability of crude oil. This is a crime,” Kiriella said.

Minister Wijesekera: “I made inquiries after I saw newspaper reports on payment of overtime to refinery workers. I inquired from the Finance Manager of the CPC. I was told that a sum between Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion had been paid as overtime. The refinery was not closed during the months of March and April. It was closed only during the last month. They had issued refined fuel on all seven days of the week continuously. When an institution operates full time in such a manner the employees would have to be paid for their overtime work. However, I admit that could have been done with some level of management in the payment process,” the Minister said.

Continue Reading

News

Wigneswaran claims RW accepted all his demands

Published

on

Head of the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), C. V. Wigneswaran told the media recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to all demands he had made, including the release of Tamil ‘political prisoners’, to secure his vote during last month’s Parliament election, to elect a President.

He made this statement following a meeting with the President in Colombo to discuss the establishment of an all-party government.

“We have made several requests and if the President is ready to comply with them, we will consider taking part in the all party government,” he said.

“We met him when he was Prime Minister. Before the parliamentary vote to elect the President, I made these demands and he agreed to them. That is why I voted for him. Now, it is for him to keep his promises. I am here to remind him of this,” Wigenswaran said.

Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister in the yahapalana government, vehemently denied that there were Tamil ‘political prisoners’ in the country. (RK)

Continue Reading

News

MPs are not immune from country’s laws – SJB

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the MPs were not immune from the Penal Code despite the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

Premadasa said Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane had claimed that incidents in Parliament could not be dealt with under the regular law.

“This claim sends the wrong message to people. Aren’t the provisions of the Penal Code or the Offences against Public Property Act applicable to the MPs? There were incidents in this Chamber during the 52-day coup conspiracy; some MPs damaged public property. There were investigations by the CID and also by Parliament.

The Secretary General announced the cost of the damage. When the process was on to prosecute those MPs responsible for the damage, political influence was exerted on the CID not to file cases against the culprits. It is against this background that Minister Gunawardane, in his position as the Cabinet spokesman, makes this false claim. His statement is sending a message saying that there is one law inside the Parliament and another outside it.

“He also claims that the Speaker decides whether these laws are applicable to Parliament or not,” Premadasa said.

Colombo District SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said that people were already against the MPs and this new wrong message would further exacerbate their anger against elected members. “The Cabinet Spokesman says that the MPs have a different set of laws while the people are dealt with by the country’s laws. That is wrong. We are also liable for criminal offences that we commit,” Rahuman said.

“The CID conducted an investigation and was prepared to file cases, but that was prevented through political influence. The Cabinet Spokesman’s statement is fueling public hatred towards the MPs. Please, request the Cabinet Spokesman to refrain from making such statements,” he said.

Minister Gunawardane said that he was only responding to a question raised by a journalist and the question was about fairness of cracking down on protesters for destroying public property, during anti-government protests, when MPs, who damaged Parliament, property under the former government, are yet to be apprehended.

Minister Gunawardane said as a public representative in Parliament for the last 33 years he had only explained that the law would be implemented against those engaged in violent activities during peaceful protests.

“I said MPs had Parliament privileges and the Parliament law. I also explained that MPs attending Parliament cannot be arrested as they are engaged in legislative activities,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said that the MPs had no such legal immunity. and Parliament privileges only cover MPs from being arrested while they are on their way to attend and when they leave Parliament. “Therefore, there is no law that says they are exempt from other laws of the country,” Kiriella said.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, agreeing with Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, said that all other laws in the country applied to the MPs.

Continue Reading

Trending