Prez holds powers to prorogue Parliament | Sunday Observer

Prez holds powers to prorogue Parliament

4 November, 2018

Former Speaker of Parliament W.J.M. Lokubandara yesterday warned UNP parliamentarians to refrain from taking any action that would violate the Constitutional powers vested in the President, such as holding mock parliamentary sessions.

These are unconstitutional and could perish due to them and even face imprisonment under the law, he said.

Lokubandara, a former Speaker of Parliament was addressing the media at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning.

He asked former Prime Minister and UNP parliamentarian Ranil Wickremsinghe to leave Temple Trees as he had stayed there enough.

Wickremesinghe should give Temple Trees to the newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, he said.

He also called on MP Wickremesinghe to adhere to the Constitution and not let foreigners interpret it the way he wants to interpret it to the world.

“If anybody plans to hold mock parliamentary sessions over the decision or decisions that the President has made known as regards summoning, proroguing or dissolving Parliament, they better be aware that they could go to jail,” he said.

“The President can prorogue Parliament not only for one or two days, or for one or two weeks but for two months if he should so decide.”

“Article 70 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka clearly states that the President may by proclamation, summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament,” he said.

“Moreover, under provisions of Article 70, the President is empowered by the Constitution to summon a parliamentary meeting after two months, and hold an inaugural session. He can also prorogue it after an inaugural session,” he said. 

“He is constitutionally empowered to do so,” he said.

“Those who get a bang out of talking about the 19th Amendment saying that the former Prime Minister holds powers in Parliament should back down on this idea and show due respect to the Constitution because it is a privilege of the President to prorogue, summon or dissolve Parliament.

“The others just have to wait because the President holds the key and is the rightful owner of it,” he said.

“If anybody thinks that all this changed by the powers of the 19th Amendment, it has never been so. Refrain from being egomaniacal about the Constitution,” he said.

“I wish to inform every citizen of the this sovereign nation that the powers vested in the President to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament is clearly his and his alone as per the Sri Lanka Constitution, and not even a single unit of its content has changed.

“Inasmuch the former Presidents, J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Banadaranaike Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa had exercised their powers during their tenures, President Maithripala Sirisena is fully empowered to execute these powers,” said Lokubandara.

Although some Constitutional experts, some of them who are in Parliament nowadays, who apparently made huge efforts to scrap the President’s powers; it was the President himself who had voluntarily scrapped them.

These panellists on Constitutional reforms had been working overtime to strip all Executive powers from President Sirisena, and with the 19th Amendment, they tried to deprive the President of his powers to the extent that he will become democratically powerless and a nominal executive.

“The 19th Amendment does not scrap the powers vested in the President. It has not touched on Article 70 of the Constitution as regards the President’s power to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament,” he said.