7 November 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is alarmed at recent developments related to Supreme Court Reference No 1/2014 and the processes sought to be used to legitimize a potential third term for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On 5 November the media reported President Mahinda Rajapaksa as having referred the following questions to the Supreme Court to seek its opinion under Article 129(1) of the Constitution:
a. Whether in terms of Article 31 (3A)(a)(i) of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, I, as the incumbent President, serving my second term of office as President, have any impediment, after the expiration of four years from the date of commencement of my second term of office as President on 19th November 2010, to declare by Proclamation my intention of appealing to the People for a mandate to hold office as President by election, for a further term?
b. Whether in terms of the provisions of the Constitution, as amended by the 18th Amendment, I, as the incumbent President, serving my second term of office as President, and was functioning as such on the date the 18th Amendment was enacted, have any impediment to be elected for a further term of office?
These questions were sent by the Registrar of the Supreme Court to the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) requesting its membership to submit written submissions by 3pm, 7 November.
CPA, has subsequently learnt of an in camera sitting by the Supreme Court on 5 November, the same date on which the letter was sent to the BASL. In light of the public and constitutional importance of the issues at stake, Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of CPA filed a motion in the Supreme Court today 07 November requesting that an oral hearing be granted, and followed with his written submissions, in the firm belief that an oral hearing will be provided, as has been the practice in the past.
CPA’s concerns on this matter were articulated in a statement issued on 23 October and warrant reiteration here. 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.