Application challenging removal of Uva CM: Parties given time to file written submissions

By Chitra Weerarathne

The Uva Province Governor had no power to remove the Chief Minister of the Provincial Council, according to the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Faizer Mustapha PC, told the Court of Appeal, when the writ application filed by Uva Provincial Council Minister, Sampath Dissanayake was heard.

Petitioner Janaka Sampath Dissanayake has challenged in the Court of Appeal, the removal of Shashindra Rajapaksa, from the office of the Chief Minister Uva Province, by the Provincial Governor.

The petition has said that the UPFA has more than half the votes in the council. He wants the court to cancel the removal of Rajapaksa and the appointment of Harin Fernando of the UNP in his place.  

He wants the appointment of Fernando suspended by court as a measure of interim relief.

Faizer Mustapha PC supporting the application of petitioner Janaka Sampath Dissanayake said that the Governor of the Province had no power to remove a chief minister according to the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution.

 Mustapha submitted that at the Provincial Council Poll of Sept. 2014, the UPFA had obtained 51.24 per cent of votes. The UNP had secured only 40 per cent. Hence the Chief Minister of Uva should be Shashindra Rajapaksa and not Harin Fernando of the UNP.

The Governor had no discretion at all to remove the Chief Minister when the UPFA had more than half the number of votes, Counsel Mustapha said. The UPFA had 19 seats out of the 34 seats in the Council.

If the Governor found the Provincial Council non-functional, due to any internal friction, he might dissolve the council, the Counsel added.

The Governor could not have written to the Chief Minister stating that he had no majority in the Council. The President had said that the UPFA members should support the UPFA Chief Minister, the court was told.

Kushan de Alwis PC appeared for the General Secretary of the UPFA, Susil Premajayanthe, who had also petitioned against the removal of Shashindra Rajapaksa from the post of UVA Chief Minister. Counsel Alwis associated himself with the submissions made by Counsel Faizer Mustapha.

Counsel de Alwis said the appointment of Harin Fernando had been gazetted prior to the gazetting of the removal of Rajapaksa.

Counsel Suren Fernando, who appeared for the present Chief Minister, said that well over half of the Provincial Councilors here recently said that they had no confidence in Pajapaksa.

Faizer Mustapha PC appeared with Shantha Jayawardene, Chanaka Jayaratne, and Pulasthi Rupasinghe for petitioner Sampatha Dissanayake.

Counsel Suren Fernando appeared for Harin Fernando.

The Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva appeared for the Attorney General.

The Bench comprised Justice Vijith Malalgoda (President) and Justice H.C.J. Madawela.

The parties were given time till April 20 to file written submissions. The order in respect of the issue of notice will be on May 11, 2015.

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