Sri Lanka Bar Association, civic group ask SC for oral hearing to challenge President’s bid for a third term

Law courtsThe Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has decided to challenge the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to seek a third term in office and asked the Supreme Court for more time to file submissions.

The BASL has sent a letter to the Supreme Court registrar saying that the time was inadequate to make written submissions with regard to the issue and asked the Supreme Court to give two weeks for a submission.

The lawyers’ organization also asked the apex court for an oral hearing on the President’s request.

“We have asked for two weeks and an opportunity for an oral hearing,” BASL spokesman Ajith Pathirana was quoted as saying.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to determine if there is any constitutional “impediment” to his contesting for third term in office. He sought the court’s decision on or before November 10.

The Supreme Court Registrar in turn sent a letter to the Bar Association on last Wednesday (Nov 05) informing the Bar Association to send their written submissions on the issue by 3 pm today.

The BASL in its letter to the Supreme Court pointed out that the incumbent President has two more years left in his second term and therefore, there is no urgency in the matter for the court to refuse an extension of time up to two weeks and an oral hearing.

“In view of the Constitutional and Public Importance in the name of maintenance of democratic values, it is essential that members of public, and especially, the BASL which represents over 14,000 Attorneys-at-law, being concerned about matters of Constitutional importance, be granted an oral hearing,” the BASL wrote to the court registrar.

Meanwhile, a leading civic group in Sri Lanka, Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) expressed alarm at the recent developments related to Supreme Court request and the processes sought to be used to legitimize a potential third term for President Rajapaksa.

The CPA said, in light of the public and constitutional importance of the issues at stake, Executive Director of CPA Dr. P. Saravanamuttu filed a motion in the Supreme Court Friday (Nov 07) requesting that an oral hearing be granted.

The CPA said the Director has filed his written submissions, in the firm belief that an oral hearing will be provided, as has been the practice in the past.

“With the incumbent President having more than two years remaining of his present term, CPA sees no urgency for the Supreme Court to have a hearing that is shrouded in secrecy and one which deprives citizens of their right to be heard on a significant national question that will define the future of Sri Lanka,” the organization said. (CP)


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