Supreme Court decides President’s term is five years Presidential Election Next Year President’s term ends in December 2019

The Supreme Court has informed President Maithripala Sirisena that his term of office is for five years. This is a sequel to President Sirisena’s query from the Supreme Court whether it is Constitutional for him to serve a full six-year term, from January 2015, when he was elected, to January 2021.

As a result of this inquiry, a five-judge bench comprising President’s Counsel (PC) Priyasath Dep CJ, and Justices Eva Wanasundera PC, Buwaneka Aluwihare PC, Sisira J. de Abrew and K.T. Chithrasiri directed that the proceeding due to special reasons as per Article 129(4) be held in public as opposed to private and thereby called for open submissions.

There were three submissions in favour of a six-year term (Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya PC, Ulapane Sumangala represented by Saliya Pieris PC and Duminda Dissanayake represented by Faisz Musthapha PC) while five opposed such and stated that Sirisena’s term was restricted to five years (Dr.Gunadasa Amarasekera represented by Kalyananda Thiranagama, Prof. Tissa Vitarana represented by M.U.M. Ali Sabry PC, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon represented by Chrishmal Warnasuriya, Wimal Weerawansa represented by Shavendra Fernando PC and Ranga Dayaratne represented by Uditha Ihalagama).

After considering the submissions, the Judges unanimously decided that the term is five years. The decision of the country’s highest Court was conveyed to the President’s Secretary over the weekend and the President’s office formally released the news yesterday (15). This means a Presidential election will be held next year, and the process has to be completed before 9 December 2019.The President, in terms of Article 129 (1) of the Constitution, had asked; “In terms of the 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 9 January 2015, have any impediment to continue in the office of the President, for a period of six years from 9 January 2015, the date on which results of my election to the office of the President was declared.”

The President had referred this question to the Supreme Court, apparently due to him being elected as President of the country on 9 January 2015, prior to the passing of the 19th Amendment, which reduced the term of the Executive President to five years and on the grounds that the law cannot be retrospective. In June last year this newspaper pointed out that claims by the Government that the President’s term ends in 2020 was incorrect. The Presidential Election has to be held between 8 November 2019 and 8 December 2019.

Courtesy : Ceylon Today

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