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* Sri Lanka legislature and judiciary clash as Speaker refuses to recognize Supreme Court notices
Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 01:39 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 30, Colombo: Widening the rift between the legislature and judiciary Sri Lanka's parliament Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa on Thursday nullified notices issued by the Supreme Court to him and to the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) enquiring on the Impeachment Motion against the Chief Justice.

Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva raised a privilege issue in parliament yesterday over the Supreme Court's notice summoning the Speaker and the 11 members of the PSC probing the charges against the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake.

Speaker Rajapaksa making a special announcement in parliament said the ruling would apply to any similar notice, Order or Determination in respect of the proceedings of the PSC which would continue solely and exclusively under the authority of Parliament.

He further said the notices issued on him and on members of the PSC have no effect and are not recognized in any manner, adding that future notices from court will be treated similarly.

"The Members of the Committee appointed by me are responsible solely and exclusively to me as the Speaker. No person, or institution outside Parliament has any authority whatsoever to issue any directive either to me as Speaker or to Members of the Committee appointed by me. This is a matter which falls exclusively within the purview of Parliament's authority," he said.

Four petitions filed in the Appellate Court and later referred to the Supreme Court have cited the Speaker and the members of the PSC - seven government and four opposition parliamentarians- as respondents.

The petitioners argue that the PSC appointed by the Speaker does not have the power to investigate the impeachment against the Chief Justice and the PSC was unconstitutional.

The opposition has supported the Speaker's decision with the view expressed by the Opposition Leader that the purported Notices constitute an unwarranted interference with the powers and procedures of Parliament and are invalid.

"On careful consideration of this matter, I wish to convey to the House my ruling that the Notices issued on me, as Speaker of Parliament and on the Members of the Select Committee appointed by me, have no effect whatever and are not recognized in any manner," Rajapaksa said.

He declared that the purported Notices, issued to him and to the Members of the Select Committee are "a nullity and entail no legal consequences."

The two branches of the government are in a collision course since the presentation of a controversial poverty alleviation bill in the parliament. The Supreme Court in September decided that the Divineguma Bill cannot be approved by parliament without being sanctioned by provincial councils.

The Speaker warned the apex court for disregarding his authority in the parliament when the court presented its ruling on the bill.

Earlier, the Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Manjula Tilakaratne accused the Executive of unduly influencing the judiciary and the President Mahinda Rajapaksa dismissed the allegation. Days after the Secretary's statement, he was attacked by unidentified assailants.



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