I have discussed in these columns some days ago the contention that President Rajapaksa is not qualified to fight an election for a third term by virtue of the operation of Article 31(2) of the Constitution. The repeal of that article by the Eighteenth Amendment does not remove the past operation of anything suffered under the repealed law. Since ex-CJ Sarath Silva first raised this issue, lawyers and non-lawyers have tried to make the case that Sarath Silva is wrong and that President Rajapaksa is not prevented by the Constitution to seek a third term.
I have pointed out, and so has Suri Ratnapala, that the relevant section of the Interpretation Ordinance to look at is section 6(3)(a). Yet, some commentators have relied on another section of the Ordinance, namely section 6(3)(b), and have argued that it does not apply to President Rajapaksa as he has not acquired a ‘penalty’ under that section! It is an argument that suffers from the fallacy of the false premise. Continue reading
President Rajapaksa’s eligibility to seek a third term as President has become a contentious issue ever since former Chief Justice Sarath Silva declared several weeks ago that President Rajapaksa is legally barred from contesting a third time. Some commentators have challenged Sarath Silva’s views and Chinthaka Mendis was one of them (see his September 2014 article ‘Why Sarath Silva is wrong’). In my view, Sarath Silva is right in his assertion that President Rajapaksa is disqualified from bidding for a third term and that the Eighteenth Amendment (to Sri Lanka’s Constitution) did not remove the disqualification to which he became subject no sooner he was elected for a second term.
The view that President Rajapaksa is disqualified to contest a third term follows from a reading of the Constitution as amended by the Eighteenth Amendment, read together with the Interpretation Ordinance. A correct interpretation of the Constitution would lead one to the conclusion that the Eighteenth Amendment was only prospective in its operation and despite that amendment President Rajapakse’s disqualification continues. Continue reading