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SC seeks end to CC see-saw

Wants President, PM, Opp. Leader to reach consensus and report by Oct. 16

By Susitha R. Fernando

The Supreme Court yesterday observed that the President, Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should reach a consensus on the nominations to the Constitutional Council and inform the outcome to Courts on October 16.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Shiranee Tilekawardena and K. Sripavan made the direction sequel to a fundamental rights application filed by two citizens complaining that their rights had been violated due to the non-appointment of the Constitutional Council.

The petitioners Sumanasiri Liyanage – a  senior lecturer of economics at University of Peradeniya and attorney  Subash Ravi Jayawardena, an Executive Director of South Asia Peace Institute filed this application citing President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Speaker, W. J. M. Lokubandara, President’s Secretary, Lalith Weeratunga, Attorney General and Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe as respondents.

In their petition they complained that despite repeated requests by the public and civil society organizations the Constitutional Council had not been reconstituted as fresh appointments had  not been made since March 2005. Thereby the Constitutional Council, a mandatory requirement under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution has ceased to be in existence for a period of 3 years.

The petitioners said the mandatory duty to appoint members to the Council was vested with the President.

Although nominations had been made, disputes as to the minority parties representation to the Council waylaid the process of the constituting the Council. On January 10, 2008 the Opposition Leader communicated to the Speaker of the nomination of former Auditor General. S. C. Mayadunne

However the process of appointing members to the Constitutional Council has come to a standstill after all the necessary nominations have been made, they said.

When the matter was taken up yesterday the court observed that the appointment was dragging due to disagreements by the parties.

“Unless there is a great degree of consensus, the Constitutional Council cannot be appointed,” the bench said.

The bench told Solicitor General Priyasath Dep who appeared on behalf of the President to inform about it to the President and report to court while Shibly Aziz PC and A. P Niles who appeared on behalf of the Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe were asked to inform him about reaching a consensus.

Mr. Aziz undertook to comply while the Solicitor General Dep sought for more time since the President was out of the country.

The court directed the counsel to notify court on the development on October 16.

M. A. Sumanthiran with Viran Corea and Suren Fernando appeared for the two petitioners.

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