By Shamindra Ferdinando
Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Colombo Mayoral candidate Mujibur Rahuman says the second stage of a high profile project to postpone the scheduled Local Government polls is underway.The former Colombo District lawmaker said so when The Island sought his response to the SLPP challenging an interim Supreme Court decision, pertaining to a fundamental rights petition, filed by SJB General Secretary, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP.
“Obviously, the government didn’t expect the Supreme Court to clear the obstacles for the conducting of the mini polls which many consider as a referendum on the government,” Rahuman said.
Declaration made by SLPP Colombo District MP and Attorney-at-Law Premanath Dolawatte that the SC interfered with the legislature, and the subsequent State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe’s appeal to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to disregard the apex court’s ruling, meant President Ranil Wickremesinghe was determined to sabotage the planned polls, he alleged.
Dolawatte, who has publicly declared that he was the lawyer of the Rajapaksa family questioned the intervention made by the Supreme Court.Close on the heels of the court declaration that funds allocated for the Election Commission shouldn’t be withheld, the EC’s Chairman and Attorney-at-Law, Nimal Punchihewa, last week re-scheduled the polls for April 25, 2023. The poll was to be originally conducted on March 09.
UNP leader Wickremesinghe and the SLPP had resorted to an extremely dangerous strategy, Rahuman said, speculating that Wickremesinghe was trying to exploit parliamentary privileges to thwart the Supreme Court.
“I have no doubt Dolawatte raised the so-called privilege issue, at the behest of President Wickremesinghe, who is obviously the government group leader. State Minister Shehan Semasinghe, too, acted in line with Wickremesinghe’s overall strategy,” Rahuman alleged.
The executive and the SLPP were threatening the very existence of the legislature, the former UNPer alleged, claiming that the government seemed to have decided to ignore the interim directive given by the SC.
Responding to another query, the top SJB spokesperson said that MP Dolawatte, who complained of violation of his parliamentary privileges, shouldn’t forget that his government brazenly abused the right of millions of voters. Perhaps the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) should inquire into this development, as the lawmaker concerned is a lawyer, Rahuman said.
The ex-MP pointed out that the BASL strongly condemned both lawmakers, Semasinghe and Dolawatte, for interfering in the judicial process, thereby undermining the independence of the judiciary.
Referring to statements issued by Dolawatte and Semasinghe on March 07 and 10, respectively, the BASL declared any attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary would be viewed as a serious affront to the rule of law, and the rights of the people. Such affronts to the independence of the judiciary would compromise the ability of the court to do justice, according to the law, irrespective of the parties, the BASL stated.
State Minister Semasinghe told The Island yesterday that he stood by the position taken on March 10. The lawmaker rejected Opposition accusations that the government was trying to cause a major rift between the legislature and judiciary. MP Dolawatte couldn’t be contacted as his hand phone was switched off.
Former parliamentarian Rahuman alleged that the Rajapaksas and Wickremesinghe were trying to overwhelm the judiciary. If they succeeded in withholding funds, allocated for the Election Commission, in this instance, regardless of the interventions made by the judiciary, the same strategy would be repeated at the next presidential and parliamentary elections, as well.
The leading SJB candidate, in Colombo, compared the ousting of Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranaike,by the Rajapaksas, in January 2013, after the Oarliament impeached her, and the ongoing tussle between the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government, and the judiciary.
“We would like to know Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s opinion on the latest developments,” the ex-MP said.
Courtesy The Island
Disclaimer: SJB alleges bid to derail election process on privilege issue affront to entire electorate - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view