Sri Lanka Supreme Court rules President’s decision to dissolve parliament illegal

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court today ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament was unconstitutional and illegal.

The verdict was delivered by a seven-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice, seven weeks after President Maithripala Sirisena plunged the country into an unprecedented political crisis.

President Sirisena set off the crisis when he sacked the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post on October 26 and formed a new cabinet. When the Rajapaksa and his cabinet could not muster enough support from the legislature, the President by a gazette notification dissolved parliament on November 9th and called a snap election.

Thirteen fundamental rights petitions were filed at the Supreme Court by political parties, and other individuals on November 12the requesting the apex court to declare President Maithripala Sirisena’s order to dissolve parliament and call snap elections is in violation of the constitution and annul the order.

Political parties including United National Party (UNP), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) as well as civil society organization, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Attorney Aruna Laksiri and a member of Elections Commission Prof. S. R. H. Hoole petitions.

A three-judge bench on 13 November issued an interim order staying operation of the Gazette proclamation issued by the President dissolving the Parliament until 7 December 2018. The Court later extended the interim injunction until the verdict is delivered.

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