‘Presidential committee probing Easter bombings illegal’

By Skandha Gunasekara

TNA Parliamentarian and member of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) investigating the Easter Sunday bombings, M.A. Sumanthiran, asserted that the committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to probe the same matter, was illegal.

MP Sumanthiran told The Sunday Morning that the President had failed to follow proper procedure when appointing the committee thus making it illegal.

He said that a judge of a superior court, such as the Supreme Court, could only undertake other functions by the President under provisions of certain laws.

“Article 110 of the Constitution says, very clearly, that a judge of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal can be asked to undertake other functions by the President that are required to be performed under any law. So only if there is a provision in a law to function in a particular capacity can the President request a judge of a superior court to function in that capacity. This particular committee was not appointed under any law.”

Explaining further, Sumanthiran said that only under the Presidential Commission Act and the Commissions of Inquiry Act could the President appoint a judge of a superior court to a committee.

“Under those laws, a judge of a superior court can be appointed. But in this, there was no such appointment. So when the judge of the Supreme Court was not appointed to function under a particular law, he couldn’t have functioned at all because he is prohibited from doing anything and everything that the President asks him to do. So, the committee is completely illegal,” MP Sumanthiran said.

However, advisor to President Sirisena, Shiral Lakthilaka, said that it was the prerogative of the President to appoint such a committee.

“Any departmental head can appoint a fact-finding committee before taking action. As the Minister of Defence, the President has every right to appoint such a committee.”

Furthermore, Lakthilaka noted that the committee had no judicial powers.

“It is not a judicial committee. It is an administrative apparatus to look into shortcomings,” he said.