Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing petitions against President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament and call for a snap election after sacking prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that triggered a major constitutional crisis in the country. The country has been in a political crisis since October 26 when Sirisena removed Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.
Sirisena later dissolved Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered snap election. The Supreme Court overturned Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls.
The apex court on Tuesday morning began the hearing on the fundamental rights petitions filed against Sirisena’s gazette notification to dissolve parliament.
A seven member bench presided by the Chief Justice Nalin Perera began hearing oral submissions, court officials said. The court on November 13 issued an interim order annulling the gazette notification which made Sirisena’s parliamentary sacking temporary illegal.
The submissions would be heard till Thursday. A court on Monday barred Rajapaksa from acting as Prime Minister. The Court of Appeal temporary halted Rajapaksa and his Cabinet from functioning in their positions in response to a case filed by 122 legislators against his disputed government.
Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa claim to be the prime ministers. Wickremesinghe says his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament.
Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe’s UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.
Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament.
Wickremesinghe, with the support from the main Tamil party, claims to have the support of more than 113 legislators, required for simple majority.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has 16 seats in the house and JVP has six legislators.
The UNF has moved three no trust motions against Rajapaksa, who has refused to step down.
The Sri Lankan president has said that due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe he would not reappoint him as the Prime Minister.
However, Wickremesinghe’s UNP claims that Sirisena will be left with no choice as he would be the man who will command the confidence in the House. Violent scenes were witnessd in Parliament as it went on to approve motions which proved that Rajapaksa lacked majority.