Presidential power after 19th Amendment : Pardoning offenders, subject to judicial review | Sunday Observer

Presidential power after 19th Amendment : Pardoning offenders, subject to judicial review

Legal experts said that the President’s power to pardon offenders is now subject to judicial review after the 19th Amendment was made law.

Attorney-at-Law, J.C. Weliamuna told the Sunday Observer that Article 35 of the Constitution now permits any citizen to go before the Supreme Court against an infringement of their fundamental rights by a decision of the President, save for declaring war and peace.

The Article states, “While any person holds office as President of the Republic of Sri Lanka, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against the President in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by the President, either in his official or private capacity: Provided that nothing in this paragraph shall be read and construed as restricting the right of any person to make an application under Article 126 (Fundamental Rights) against the Attorney-General, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by the President, in his official capacity”.

UNP parliamentarian Dr Jayampathi Wickremaratne told the Sunday Observer that although Article 34 of the Constitution separately discusses the President’s power to pardon it is still subjected to judicial review.

“The Supreme Court, in the case filed against the President’s move to dissolve Parliament very clearly said that all action by the President except the declaration of war and peace are subject to judicial review,” Dr Wickremarathne said.

“This is not after so many years after the conviction, but less than even six months and that too by the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the judgment of the Court of Appeal and it is an offence against the administration of justice,” he said Various Buddhist prelates have requested that the convict be pardoned, however, Dr Jayampathi points out that this is not an offence or a matter involving religion, this is a matter involving contempt of court. “So in my view the President must call for a report from the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice and if he thinks fit even from the Chief Justice.”

Ven. Galaboda Aththey Gnanasara Thera, General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena was found guilty last August for intimidating victim Sandya Ekneligoda and abusing a Deputy Solicitor General and disturbing court proceedings.

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