SC rules North-East merger invalid
COLOMBO: The Bench of five Supreme Court Judges yesterday held that
the Proclamation made by the then President J.R. Jayewardene merging the
North and East provinces as one administrative province had no force in
The Court delivering the judgement in three Fundamental Rights
applications filed by the JVP held that the two mandatory conditions
that led to the Proclamation had not been satisfied.
"The Proclamation made by the then President declaring that the
Northern and Eastern Provinces shall form one administrative unit has
been made when neither of the conditions specified in the Section 37
(1)(b) of the Provincial Councils Act No. 42 of 1987 as to the surrender
of weapons and the cessation of hostilities, were satisfied. Therefore,
the order must necessarily be declared invalid since it infringes the
limits which Parliament itself had ordered."
The Court also held that the Emergency Regulations under which the
then President made the purported Amendment to the Provincial Councils
Act leading to the Proclamation was ultravirus and in excess of the
powers of the President.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva PC and Justices
Nihal Jayasinghe, N.K. Udalagama, Raja Fernando and Nimal Gamini
Petitioners JVP MP Jayanatha Wijesekera, A.S.M. Buhari and L.P.
Wasantha in their petitions stated that their right to equality had been
violated by the failure of the President to set a date for the
establishment of a separate Provincial Council for the Eastern Province
and the consequential failure to afford the petitioners as well as other
inhabitants an opportunity to exercise their right to vote at an
election for membership of such council.
The petitioners sought two persons to be appointed by the President
as Governors of the Northern Province and the Eastern Province.
They also sought declarations that the proclamation made by the then
President published in the gazette dated September 8, 1988 merging the
North and East provinces into a single unit of administration and the
Emergency Regulations declared on September 2, 1988 were null and void
without having any legal effect.
The petitioners, voters of the Eastern Province cited the Attorney
General, the Governor of the North-East Provincial Council and the
Commissioner of Elections as respondents.
They stated that the merger was illegal since the Section 37(1) of
the Provincial Councils Act No. 42 of 1987 was not validly amended. They
contended that the purported amalgamation was invalid and the two
provinces remained as two separate administrative units.
H.L. de Silva PC with S.L. Gunasekera, Gomin Dayasiri and Manoli
Jinadasa instructed by Paul Ratnayake Associates appeared for the
Additional Solicitor General P.A. Ratnayake PC with Deputy Solicitor
Generals Anil Gunaratne and A. Gnanathasan, Senior State Counsel Indika
Demuni de Silva, Janak de Silva, Milinda Gunathilake, and Nerin Pulle
appeared for the respondents. Kanag-Isawaran PC with M.A. Sumanthiran
and Batty Weerakoon with Percy Wickramasekera appeared for the
Meanwhile, when contacted by the Daily News President's Counsel H. L.
de Silva the senior council for the petitioners said the Elections
Commissioner who had been a respondent to the three rights cases should
take steps to hold elections for the two Provincial Councils, the North
and the East separately.
"In order to do so the Commissioner should first assess whether the
situation is conducive to hold an election."
President's Counsel Silva also told that the question of a referendum
would not arise since there was not a valid merger.
The spokesman for the President's Secretariat said that the
Government would make a careful study of the determination by the
Supreme Court with all its implications in deciding on steps to be taken
in view of the determination.
Future of Eastern population should be decided by referendum -
COLOMBO: President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the future of the
Eastern population should be decided by means of a referendum.
In a comment made earlier President Rajapaksa has said: "The
Executive, Judiciary, Legislature or any other power cannot change the
future of the people in the East. Their destiny can only be decided by
themselves. According to the Indo-Lanka Agreement, the future of the
Eastern population has to be decided by a referendum."
The Northern and the Eastern provinces were merged by the 13th
Amendment to the Constitution and the Provincial Councils Act of 1987
which set up the provincial councils.
In terms of the provisions in the Amendment and the Act, it is
mandatory for a poll to be held in each province to enable the voters in
each province to decide whether the two provinces should remain linked.