Sri Lanka Supreme Court overturns President Sirisena's decision to dissolve parliament

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Colombo, Sri Lanka Nov 13, 2018, 05.58 PM (IST)

The Sri Lankan Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned President Maithripala Sirisena's decision to dissolve the island nation's parliament. The court has stayed President's decision till December 19 and also ordered a halt to preparations for snap elections next year.

Sirisena dissolved Parliament on November 9 and announced snap polls to be held on January 5 next year after it became clear that he did not have enough support in the House to prove the premiership of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he appointed prime minister after abruptly sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26.

The three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Nalin Perera read out the landmark decision to a packed court that was guarded by hundreds of heavily armed police and commandos.

Rajapaksa needed the support of at least 113 parliamentarians in the 225-member House to prove his majority.

Major political parties and an election commission member on Monday dragged Sirisena to the Supreme Court, challenging his move of dissolving Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end.

On Monday, dozens of people booed a legislator loyal to Sirisena as he arrived at the court complex, prompting police to declare the site out of bounds on Tuesday.

Wickremesinghe said his United National Party is currently discussing about building a broader people's organization in what he said to save the country from the current political crisis.

The statement comes amid calls by pro-democracy forces for greater efforts to restore democracy and fears that the country may be sliding back to the pre-2015 situation. 

The petitioners had called the president's decision as unconstitutional.

The attorney general of Sri Lanka had backed president Sirisena saying that he invoked his plenary executive power to dissolve the parliament.

The attorney general had also added that the top court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine filed petitions. 

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan freedom party led by president Maithripala Sirisena called a special meeting at the presidential secretariat.

The move comes after Sri Lanka's new prime minister Rajapaksa and 44 former lawmakers have defected from the party led by president Mithripala Sirisena.

The split with the president's party comes barely two weeks after he installed Rajapaksa in office.

An intense power struggle has erupted in Sri Lanka in the past two weeks following president Sirisena’s sudden sacking of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Story highlights

The three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice Nalin Perera read out the landmark decision to a packed court that was guarded by hundreds of heavily armed police and commandos.