President s counsel Wijedasa Rajapakse when speaking on the motion to be tabled by him when the Parliament sits on the 6th of April regarding the introduction of an amendment to the Army Act 1949, at a media briefing held at the UNP media unit today (26) said, if an Army officer is to be hauled before the military Court on the ground that he has violated the Army Act because he spoke politics with his friends and relatives, the lives of nearly two lakhs officers in the three Forces will be at stake and maintenance of the Forces will be jeopardized., he pointed out.
In these circumstances even recruiting officers to the Forces will become a problem
This amendment he is proposing is in the National interest and aimed at protecting the fundamental rights of the three Forces, Mr. Rajapakse noted.
Those who initiated this detention of Gen. Fonseka the Presidential candidate at the last Presidential elections under the Army laws have acted ultra vires the constitution. The Amy Act cannot take precedence over the Constitution. Under article 34 of the Army Act 1949 (17), only a commissioned officer of the Army or a soldier can be tried by a military Court, and only the Army Commander who can decide on that course of action. But the Army Act does not have provisions governing an Army Commander when he is made an accused.
In these circumstances, the civil Courts have the power to interpret the laws. But, if there are delays in the courts, it is because of political interference. If there was no politics involved these unwelcome situations wont arise, he noted.
The Parliament is the supreme legislative body. The Executive has no power to legislate. Whenever there is a controversy on a legal matter, it is the MPs who should come forward as representatives of the legislature to clear the clouds in the laws by amendments or reforms, he explained.
If an Army officer talked politics privately with a friend or his relative, and if he is to be charged under the Army Act for that, there can be nothing more dangerous than that. It will be putting the lives of 2 lakhs Army officers and soldiers in jeopardy. Besides, it is a denial of the right of franchise, if the Army officer is to mutely exercise his voting right, and a deprival of the fundamental right conferred on him by the Constitution.
Is an Army officer speaking politics at his home with a friend or relative wrong ? Is he not a Sri lankan citizen? How can decisions be taken in regard to political or any other discussions. Recently, Army officers of the highest rungs were summoned to the TV channels and discussions were telecast. Those were political discussions. Then why are they not charged under the Army Act ? This is where the controversy is.
When a journalist questioned Mr. Rajapakse: isn t there a possibility by such political discussions, the Army ranks can be politicized? Rajapakse replied, certainly there is a possibility.
The President has told he would not give a pardon to Gen. Fonseka
Firstly, he should have committed a wrong, to grant a pardon. He must be proved guilty first. What is the pardon you can give to a person who is not guilty ? he asked.
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