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Monday, 7 January 2013

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IT’S PEACEFUL -- TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW …

Tomorrow, the Speaker the Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa is scheduled to make his address to the Parliament over the order made by the Supreme Court with regard to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the conduct of the Chief Justice. Indeed, all indications are that he will read the riot act.

The fundamentals of the system as it were, are at stake. No court can be allowed to go out on a limb and criticize the supreme legislative body of the country. This is why it has already been stated by responsible ministers of government that the judges who issued the ruling that PSC proceedings are invalid are liable to be brought before the Privileges Committee, in the well of the House.

Wimal Weerawansa the Minister of Housing and Construction has said so yesterday, and it is clear that the Speaker while reiterating his earlier ruling will dwell on this aspect of flagrant contempt of Parliament.

Contempt it is, as the recent court ruling on the PSC has ignored the constitution, pure and simple, and this is an act of subterfuge against the people of this country who are sovereign. The people’s sovereignty is reflected primarily in the constitutional document.

To misinterpret that constitutional document by yards is an act that is aimed against the people, and when it appears to be done for the mean advantage of securing the power of the judicial branch and its embattled head -- it becomes a frightening pantomime that would have been recreational, had it not been invested with the potential of having such adverse repercussions on the country …

It is also a fact that the ruling has been made in the teeth of a decision by a former Speaker who declared unequivocally that no writs shall be passed on Parliament.

As is usual, sections of the privately kept press have gone to town on the court’s verdict, but this is predictable since what most of the screamers in this section of the media have been predicting for the last few years has never come to pass. This time, they have opined editorially about all types of doomsday scenarios, not taking into cognizance the fact that once the President delivers his address impeaching the Chief Justice she stands impeached, constitutionally -- irrespective of what any court has said.

Constitutional procedure is to appoint a PSC, investigate, debate the report, and remove the Chief Justice upon an address by the President to Parliament. This procedure has been followed to a tee, and it is constitutional to boot. Any contrary opinion by the court in this context is a mere sideshow that has no value in the face of the constitutional act of impeachment.

The dire prognostications in some newspapers have all the hallmarks of opinion-makers’ hyperbole to spice up what would otherwise have been a dull Sunday mornings reading! The fact remains that by and large the folks on the street are not sensitized in this way the newspapers keep nattering on about, as they would have shown their reactions unmistakably if they were. On the contrary the people seem to have the gut feeling that the Chief Justice – the Loku Nadukara Hamuduruwo -- cannot be involved in some hanky-panky that can be excused from say the Grama Sevaka, the Pradeshiya Sabhikaya or the Mantrithuma, even.

It is also difficult to keep the man on the street from discerning that there is an elite conspiracy to dislodge the elected government. They are mature enough to know that the fundamentals of the system cannot be shaken by the courts just because they want to save the skin of one their own.

One thing that can be said clearly is that a court cannot in such cavalier fashion ignore articles of the constitution, and ignore parliamentary decisions taken by the Speaker. A four year old should be able to understand that, as any reading of the court judgement makes it clear that some constitutional provisions have been ignored wholesale as it were, to come to a judgement that is prejudicial to the impeachment process, for reasons that do not have to be gone into here.

In fact, the merits and demerits of the impeachment aside, procedure needs be followed. The integrity of the governance structures cannot be compromised. The fact that in this impeachment, there is a great deal of substantive material against the CJ, makes it all the more clearer that there is something other than an above-board motive among those who are acting against the Speaker’s clear decision that court notices and writs cannot be issued with regard to the PSC process.

The defiant drama queen!

Is Parliamentary Select Committee a court? If it were so why on earth did MPs, lawyers and the CJ herself valiantly opine on the proceedings conducted by it and the possible outcome of the proceedings, before it was concluded, knowing that it was ‘sub judice’? (Under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere) So they knew it was not a Court!

Full Story

Teachers that teach!

At a regional consultation last month on educational assistance, I was immensely struck by the assertion of one participant that programmes should aim at ‘making the classroom more joyful’. Sadly, that is not seen by many educational administrators or trainers as important. The result is that teachers do not focus on this sufficiently, even though doing this would also help to make teaching an enjoyable vocation for practitioners, and not just a job.

 

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