President has no power to gift jumbos

by Ifham Nizam

President doesn’t have the power to make grants and dispositions of elephants, the Attorney General’s Department has written to Tourism and Sports Deputy Minister Vasantha Senanayake.

This follows a letter written to the Attorney General’s Department by the deputy minister, citing the powers and functions of the President of the Republic of Sri Lanka, spelt out under Article 33 of the Constitution.

The letter added: "On the question of where the President’s empowered to make grants of elephants in terms of Article 33 (d), we are in the opinion that upon a strict interpretation of this constitutional provision the President doesn’t appear to have power to make such grants and dispositions of elephants."

He also said that The Fauna and Flora Ordinance also does not confer such power on the President.

Addressing a press briefing in Colombo last evening, the deputy minister said that he had written to President Maithripala Sirisena, the spelling out the legal provisions when giving or exporting an elephant.

He stressed though President Sirisena, is not involved in such attempts, it is his responsibility to inform of the legal provisions though starting from former President J R Jayewardene in 1978 to President Mahinda Rajapakse had given away number of elephants. "Surely former Presidents were not informed or aware of such provisions," he added.

Fielding questions, he said that he would take up matter with President Sirisena when he meets him shortly.

He also said that even when it comes to diplomatic relations, ministers and the Zoological Gardens Director have the right only to give away second generation of the elephants caught in the wild.

He assured plans are underway to amend the act making sure no elephant being exported out of the country.

Senanayake strongly believes there is shortage of elephants even when it came to cultural events and the population is also decreasing, thus it is time to put an end stop elephant deals.

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