Presidents third term bid : SC opinion not binding - BASL



by Zacki Jabbar


The Supreme Court was not bound to give a ruling on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s reference seeking a determination on whether he was eligible to seek re-election for a third term, nor is its opinion binding, says the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).


BASL President Upul Jayasuriya said that in the event the SC ruled that Rajapaksa could bid for a third term they could at the time he declared his candidature challenge it in the Supreme Court (SC) but it would be a futile exercise.


"What is the point in going on the same journey by a different route?", he asked. "The SC is not bound to give a ruling on the Presidents reference nor is its opinion binding. Canvassing an SC opinion would mean going back to the same court. It would be a futile exercise."


Jayasuriya said that lawyers who had gone to the Supreme Court registry on November 7 to file motions contending that Rajapaksa was not eligible to seek re-election had been told by the Registrar that it could not be accepted since the Court had concluded the hearing on the President’s reference.


"What was the hurry to set a deadline for written submissions to be made by 3 pm on November 7, when the Presidents reference had been made on November 5? With the intervening public holiday in lieu of Poya falling on November 6, there was hardly any time for lawyers to file their objections. Beside, written submissions are made at the end of an oral hearing.


"A presidential election has not even been announced. Surely a two-week time period could have been granted. The fact that the President himself had sought a determination indicated that there was a doubt in his very own mind about his eligibility to seek re-election," Jayasuriya said.


He said that the BASL had written two letters to the Registrar of the Supreme Court on November 5 and 7, requesting that in view of the constitutional and national importance of the issue being determined, it was essential that the public and the BASL representing 14,000 lawyers be granted an oral hearing, but there had been no response.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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