Sumanthiran launches blistering attack on Supreme Court


Seeks rehabilitation of cabinet

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Thursday came under a scathing attack in parliament during the debate on the 22nd constitutional amendment with TNA legislator M. A. Sumanthiran accusing the highest judiciary of swinging like a pendulum. In his blistering speech on Thursday, the TNA lawmaker accused the supreme court justices of inconsistencies and said they appeared unable to read and understand their own determinations of just a few years ago. Sumanthiran said the same court which had allowed the 19th amendment to pass without a referendum in 2015 was now demanding a nation-wide plebiscite.

“It’s not only the parliament that swings like a pendulum,” Sumanthiran said. “It is (also) the Supreme Court, so change that Supreme Court also. Ask them to go home.” “If they can’t read and understand their own determination in the 19th Amendment, with the very same words, within a few years, they said no, this requires a referendum.

How can that be? They’re supposed to be learned?” He also discounted claims by the government that the 22nd amendment was reducing the powers of the presidency and insisted that there was no radical reform in the bill to move towards the abolition of the much-maligned executive presidency.

“You are lying to the people saying this is a first step towards that (abolition), when in fact, none of the powers of the executive president are taken away by this bill. It is false. You’re lying to the people of this country,” he said.

However, he said there was nothing objectionable in the bill except that it could undermine people’s confidence in parliament and their elected representatives to deliver on promised political reforms.

“I must say, there are no harmful provisions in this bill. But the harm is that you are showing the country something when it is not. And that is potentially harmful, because the confidence that people have in these institutions have been eroded, and now totally destroyed.”

After his outburst against the Supreme Court, Sumanthiran later applauded the same court for shooting down the controversial Bureau of Rehabilitation which envisaged the arbitrary detention of people for “de-radicalisation and rehabilitation.”

The bill was similar to regulations promulgated by deposed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa earlier last year under the Prevention of Terrorism Act to hold anyone for up to two years for ” de-radicalisation and rehabilitation” without judicial approval or oversight.

“Of course, today, there was a good determination,” Sumanthiran said referring to the highest court saying that the bill cannot pass without a referendum.

“On the Bureau of rehabilitation bill, we said withdraw it. It goes against the fundamental principles that a person must be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not to be just rounded up and taken and put into rehabilitation.

“And I don’t know why the minister even presented this bill in his House. I’ve asked the question publicly whether the cabinet should be rehabilitated for even presenting this bill.”

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