Motions against CB Governor and BC DG can be taken up-Speaker

Published : 9:20 am  May 21, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa ruled yesterday that the motions against Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and Bribery Commission director general Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe could be taken up for debate in Parliament, subject to a review of their contents by a parliamentary committee.

The Speaker, in his ruling, said he had received the motion against the Central Bank Governor with the signatures of 88 MPs, and the motion against Ms. Wickramasinghe with 105 MPs’ signatures.

Later, the motions had been placed on the Order Book of Parliament.

The Speaker said Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ajith P. Perera had said that the standing orders precluded debate on such motions, and that, if they were taken up, it would create a bad precedent.

Yet the Speaker said in his ruling that the legislative power of the people had to be exercised by parliament, which was elected by them, in accordance with Article 4(a) of the Constitution. He said the people themselves exercise their legislative power at referenda. Emphasising that Parliament should not abdicate its responsibility to exercise that legislative power in conformity with the constitutional provisions, he said parliament was the sole authority on public finances.

He said the main objective of the 19th Amendment was to broaden parliamentary power in these areas. He said Cabinet was collectively responsible to Parliament in terms of the 19th Amendment.

Besides, he said, Article 74 of the Constitution provided for Parliament to make standing orders.

“Parliament can supervise the government and other institutions as per standing orders. Going by this principle, parliament can move motions on different matters for debate, and raise questions. It can question bureaucrats, examine any kind of document, and review public petitions,” he said.

Consequently, he said, he could not accept the contention that these two motions could not be taken up for debate in the House.
“Accordingly parliament has the authority to take these two motions up for debate,” he said.

Yet he noted these were motions on two officials, and they were entitled to be judged according to the principles of natural justice as enshrined in the Constitution. Therefore the principle of ‘ audi alteram partem, or the necessity to give a fair hearing to both sides, should be adhered to, he said.

The Speaker said it would be better to refer the two motions to separate parliamentary committees, already existing or to be formed, for content reviews, before being taken up for debate in the House

Or else, he said, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) could take up the motion on the Central Bank Governor for examination, and submit a report within two weeks.