*AG says Nov 19, 2010 due date
*Other counsel say Nov 19, 2011
Bench of seven Supreme Court judges will today communicate its opinion on the commencement of the second term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa after his re-election to office. President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday consulted the Supreme Court under Article 129 of the Constitution for its opinion on the commencement of the second term in office. In terms of the Constitution the opinion of the Court should be communicated to the President within 24 hours.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, Justice Jagath Balapatabendi, Justice K. Sripavan, Justice P.A. Rathnayake PC, Justice Chandra Ekanayake and Justice S.I. Imam.
Attorney General Mohan Peiris PC submitted that in terms of the Articles 31 of the Constitution, the second term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa should commence on November 19, this year.
He submitted that President Rajapaksa was first elected to the office in November 19, 2005 and he could seek the mandate for the second term after the completion of four years in office and now he has been re-elected for another six years. He submitted that according to the third amendment to the Constitution brought in during the regime of former President J.R. Jayewardene, in case of the incumbent President being re-elected for the second term, his/her term should begin in the current or succeeding year which ever comes earlier , corresponding to the date on which he was first elected to the office.
The AG submitted that in case one of incumbent President s challengers is elected, his/her term would commence on the day on which the polls was held.
President s Counsel Nihal Jayamanne on behalf of Presidential candidate Sarath Kongahage who was permitted to intervene, submitted that the second term of the President should begin on November 19, 2011.
He argued that it was the people who elected the President to office and the President is under the constitutional duty to function until the termination of the full six-year term. Even the President himself could not curtail the mandate of the people to function for a full term, he submitted.
President s Counsel D.S. Wijesinghe in his intervention on behalf of Prof. Mendis Rohanadeera submitted that the second term of the President should commence on November 19, 2011.
Counsel Wijesinghe invited the court to consider the basic values of the Constitution i.e. people are sovereign and the mandate of the people given the President to function for the full term of six years should not be any way curtailed.
Colombo University Lecturer Rohan Edrisinha appearing in person submitted that in terms of the third amendment to the Constitution effected by former President J.R. Jayewardene, it was clear that the President s second term should begin on November 19, this year. He however, submitted that according to the international and best democratic practices the President s term should commence as soon as the conclusion of the election.
He also invited the court to accept or overrule certain Supreme Court judgments that held the commencement of the office of a President for the second term should commence right after his/her election, in the interest of the law students. He also requested the court to make available subsequently the court opinion to the public.
The Court rejected an application by Counsel Chrismal Warnasuriya on behalf of the JVP, to tender written submissions addressing their concerns. The court noted there was hardly any time since the court should forward the decision to the President within 24 hours. .