Sri Lanka Supreme Court appoints five-member bench to evaluate President’s request to extend term

The Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Supreme Court has appointed a five-judge bench to evaluate President Maithripala Sirisena’s request to extend his term in office by one year.

The five-judge bench will be chaired by the Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and includes Supreme Court judges Eva Wanasundera, Buwaneka Aluvihare, K. T. Chithrasiri and Sisira de Abrew.

According to the powers vested in him by the Constitution, the President in his written request to the Supreme Court has indicated that he was sworn in to the office on 9th January 2015 under the 1978 Constitution which specifies a term limit of six years.

However the 19th Amendment to the Constitution passed in April 2015 specifies a term limit of five years.

The President has requested the Supreme Court to deliberate on whether his term is limited to five years or six years and advise him on the duration of his term.

The President requested to know “Whether, in terms of Provisions of the Constitution, I, as the person elected and succeeding to the office of President and having assumed such office in terms of Article 32(1) of the Constitution on 9th January 2015, have any impediment to continue in the office of President for a period of six years from 9th January 2015, the date on which the result of my election to the office of President was declared.”

Considering the President’s request, the Supreme Court has decided to hold a special session today (11th) to deliberate on the matter. A number of parties including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka are scheduled to present their arguments at the session.

The Supreme Court is expected to submit its opinion to the President on or before 15th of January.

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