LSSP says case over PA's National list pre-empted
[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 November 2003, 18:21 GMT]
Mr. Batty Weerakoon, the leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), has charged that when his party was about to finish its submissions before the three-member bench of the Supreme Court hearing the case against the People’s Alliance General Secretary, Mr.D.M. Dayaratne, and the Elections Commissioner, over the nomination of PA's National List parliamentarians, Mr. Dayaratne’s counsel appealed to the Chief Justice that the case should be heard before a five-member bench, thereby pre-empting the case from proceeding, press reports in Sri Lanka said this week.
As the leader of one of the PA's constituent parties, Mr. Weerakoon was to be included in the National list parliamentarians after the 2001 elections, but was left out, sources said.
The LSSP brought the case before the Supreme Court, charging that the PA General Secretary had made the appointment without consulting the PA’s Executive Committee, and the Elections Commissioner, too, had erred by gazetting the names of appointees before the legally required number of days had lapsed.
Mr. Weerakoon said that he was compelled to withdraw the case filed in January 2002, after the Chief Justice, Mr. Sarath N. Silva, made an order to hear the case before a five-member bench, without hearing the LSSP’s arguments, despite the fact that the 3-member bench had in its previous sitting denied the request of the PA General Secretary.
The CJ’s decision to add two members to the bench meant that the case would be pre-empted from proceeding and would be heard afresh, Mr. Weerakoon said. Indeed, the three-member bench later fixed the fresh hearing before the five-member bench in February 2004.
Mr. Weerakoon said that the central committee of the LSSP decided that no purpose would be served by proceeding with the case, as it would take another year from the start of new hearings, and that the CJ’s order had subverted the case as the LSSP was denied an opportunity to show the court the circumstances in which the PA General Secretary’s application was made at a time when the case had reached its final stage.
Political analysts say that the LSSP, being a small party, could not afford to continue the case incurring substantial costs.
Mr. Weerakoon's criticism of the CJ's decision comes amid widespread criticism of a pattern of decisions by the Chief Justice said to be favoring the PA. The UNF government had been planning to impeach the CJ, but the plan has been on hold following the take-over of three key ministries by the President, which has generated a constitutional crisis.