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President’s Counsel K. Kanag Iswaran

Constitution not clay in hands of contesting parties: Counsel

President’s Counsel K. Kanag Iswaran said yesterday the Constitution was not clay in the hands of contesting parties to be moulded as he or she sees fit while the constitutional language sets the limits of interpretation which aspires to give constitutional unity and harmony.

Appearing for MP R.Sampanthan, he made this submission to the 7-judge bench of the Supreme Court at the hearing of the fundamental rights petition against the dissolution of parliament by the President.

Ten FR petitions had been filed against the dissolution of parliament. The SC bench comprised Chief Justice Nalin Perera, Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira J de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Prasanna S. Jayawardena, Vijith K. Malalgoda and Murdu Fernando.

Kanag Iswaran PC said the President may by proclamation, summon, prorogue and dissolve parliament provided the President shall not dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of not less than four years and six months from the date of its first meeting unless Parliament requests the President to do so by a resolution passed by not less than two-thirds of the whole number of members (including those not present) voting in favour together with the other consequential provisions.

He said this argument was in no manner or form supportive of any contention seeking to give the purported proclamation of dissolution of Parliament constitutional or legal efficacy or validity.

Counsel said Article 70 and the Act of 1981, whether taken individually, collectively or in any other manner whatsoever, did not confer any right, authority or power upon the President to dissolve parliament by proclamation and therefore was a nullity.

He said the parliament consisting of 225 members once elected shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting and no longer and at the end of the fixed term of five years, parliament stands dissolved automatically without any proclamation being made.

The Counsel said parliament can be dissolved before the expiry of the fixed period of five years as mandated in Article 62(1) by the President by way of a proclamation that too only after the expiration of a period of not less than four years and six months from the date of its first meeting.

He said the Constitution does not permit or countenance any other way in which parliament may be dissolved by the President and as such the purported proclamation of dissolution of Parliament by the President is unconstitutional and is null and void and of no force or effect in law. The petitioners ask Court for a declaration that the decisions and directions in the proclamation is null and void and of no force or effect in law.

The petitions were filed by Kabir Hashim and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam of UNP, Lal Wijenayeke of United Left Front, CPA, Member of the Election Commission Prof. Ratnajeevan. H. Hoole, Attorney-at-Law G.C.T. Perera, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, All Ceylon Makkal Congress, Mano Ganesan MP.

K.Kanag Iswaran PC, Thilak Marapana PC, Dr Jayampathi Wickremaratne PC, M.A. Sumanthiran PC. Viran Corea, Ikram Mohamed PC, J.C.Weliamuna PC, Ronald Perera PC, Hisbullah Hijaz and Suren Fernando appeared for the petitioners while Gamini Marapane PC with Nalin Marapane, Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC and Ali Sabry PC appeared for the intervenient petitioners opposing the main petitions. (S.S.Selvanayagam)

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