President responsible to Parliament under Constitution - Counsel | Daily News


Gotabaya citizenship challenge petition :

President responsible to Parliament under Constitution - Counsel

The Attorney General’s position that the President has plenary powers is questionable since Article 42 of the 1978 constitution had made President responsible to parliament, President’s Counsel Chanaka de Silva PC, told the Court of Appeal in yesterday’s hearing of the petition challenging Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s citizenship.

De Silva was making arguments on behalf of Internal, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Vajira Abeywardena who is the third respondent in the writ petition.

The Court of Appeal three-judge bench comprising Justices Yasantha Kodagoda,  Arjuna Obeysekere and Mahinda Samayawardena fixed the petition for further submission today (4th).

‘Article 42 clearly states that the President should be responsible to Parliament for the due exercise, performance and discharge of his powers, duties and functions under the Constitution. It means the President should be answerable to Parliament,’ Chanaka de Silva PC said.

Counsel further argued that Article 30 of the constitution which outlines the Executive Presidency should be read with Article 42 and 43 of the Constitution.

The exercise of executive powers by the Cabinet of Ministers is also explained under Article 43 of the Constitution. All the relevant provisions of the Constitution should be read together to understand the powers of President, he added.

In reply to a query made by Justice Kodagoda, Counsel de Silva stated that the public service and government mechanisms continue to function even in the absence of the Cabinet of ministers and President.

The petitioners had alleged that the questionable dual citizenship certificate had been issued by the former President at a time no Cabinet of ministers existed.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for Gotabaya Rajapaksa moved court to dismiss the petition in limine stating that it has been filed with political motivations.

He argued that, in accordance with the Constitution, the President is the head of the executive and government.

‘The executive President enjoyed immunity from legal proceedings prior to the 19th amendment to the Constitution,’ Silva pointed out.

He further said that the former President had issued citizenship certificates in respect of 21 individual including Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the same date but no one has challenged others eligibility in courts.

Silva further submitted to court that his client had cast his vote on several elections and functioned as the Defence Ministry Secretary without any objections for several years. The writ petition has been filed by Co-Conveners of the citizens’ organization “Puravesi Balaya”, namely, democracy activist and writer Gamini Viyangoda and painter-scholar Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara. The petitioners are seeking an interim order restraining the fifth respondent Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from holding out or claiming that he is a citizen of Sri Lanka and from acting on the basis of the purported Dual Citizenship Certificate, until the hearing and determination of this writ petition.

Counsel Suren Fernando with Attorneys Niran Anketel, Dinesh Vidanapathirana and Priyangika Jayawickrama through Vidanapathirana Associates appeared for the petitioners.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva with Ali Sabry PC appeared for Gotabaya Rajapaksa. President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana with Navin Marapana PC appeared for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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