Opposition slams Speaker over proclamation on DDO resolution
Saturday, 12 August 2023 01:36 – – 29
From left: Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, NPP leader MP Anura Dissanayaka, SLPP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara and FPC MP Prof. G.L. Peiris
Opposition calls for Speaker to retract his announcement in parliament
Opposition leader labels Speaker an agent of President Ranil Wickremesinghe
The Speaker refuses to retract decision and says it was made after deliberation with experts
Opposition parties came together to slam Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene yesterday over his recent announcement in parliament that the Supreme Court nor any other court can rule on the Government’s domestic debt optimisation plan as it has already been sanctioned by the parliament.
Speaking in parliament yesterday opposition leader Sajith Premadasa accused Abeywardene of being an agent of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and urged the speaker to retract his proclamation. “In one instance two MPs raised a parliamentary privilege issue and threatened the Election Commission and the courts. Next, the President invited judges for a banquet in the hope they would deliver judgements favourable to the Government,” he recalled.
Premadasa said while the Government’s domestic debt optimisation plan clearly violates the fundamental rights of the citizens, the Speaker has now issued a proclamation in favour of yet another Government MP who raised a question of privilege when the plan was challenged in court. Premadasa said the Speaker despite being the head of the legislature is acting as an agent of the executive to intervene in the court process by declaring the court in delivering its judgement must adhere to the resolution passed in parliament. The opposition leader asked what this would mean for the separation of powers and the checks and balances in place. He said the Speaker, through his statement, has made it evident to the country and the world that he is in fact an agent of the President and is now intimidating and threatening the courts and judges.
“Do not be a cat’s paw of the executive. Retract your proclamation,” he said.
However, in response, the Speaker said he will stand by his decision and uphold his verdict against involving the judiciary in Sri Lanka’s domestic debt restructuring. He emphasised that the authority over public finance exclusively lies within the domain of the parliament.
Abeywardene said his decision was the outcome of extensive deliberations and consultations with legal experts. The speaker highlighted that his ruling did not pinpoint any particular court case; rather, it underscored the supremacy of the parliament’s role in matters pertaining to public finance.
However, National People’s Party (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the decision of the Speaker sets a bad precedent.
“We have now established a precedent where a government-proposed motion, once approved, becomes ineligible for court proceedings. This is fundamentally misguided,” remarked Dissanayake.
“There remains only one course of action. You should retract your decision,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MP Dayasiri Jayasekara highlighted that subsequent to the Speaker’s ruling, the Supreme Court rejected a petition concerning domestic debt restructuring.
“They were concerned that this could potentially trigger a conflict between the judiciary and the executive branch,” he elaborated.
Opposition MP Prof G.L Peiris cautioned that the Speaker’s ruling might pave the way for a constitutional crisis.