We vehemently condemn President Wickremasinghe’s misinterpretation of People’s Sovereignty and implied threat to the judiciary..!

-Joint Statement from 13 unions

(Lanka-e-News -07.Aug.2023, 11.30PM)  We the undersigned trade unions take serious note of President Wickremasinghe’s mention that control of all financial affairs is the responsibility of the parliament and of no one else in his speech at the Coconut Growers Annual Conference on Friday 04 August (2023) at the Foundation Institute, Colombo. Implying the issue of debt optimization, he said, the programme has been approved by parliament. He also said judicial powers of the People are vested with the parliament according to the Constitution.
Let us say that, we would not dispute President as long as those decisions and laws adopted in parliament do not infringe on or violate the fundamental rights of the People and their wellbeing.

We nevertheless take serious note of the President’s implied threat to the judiciary and the message conveyed to the People that the government would continue with that work and would stop, only if the parliament wants to. Followed by the firm statement in the same vein, that with the parliament having all powers, the government cannot accept advice or instructions from any other. Adding that especially with debt restructuring the government is only responsible to the parliament.

This calculated statement is made when the Supreme Court is to hear two FR petitions in relation to debt restructuring regarding EPF and other superannuation funds. The Supreme Court began hearing one petition and fixed 8th August (2023) for submissions by respondents and 10th August 2023 has been fixed for the arguments. What the President said at the Foundation Institute on Friday last is a forewarning, he would not abide by any advice or instructions the SC may decide upon on debt restructuring.

We wish to state very clearly, to say the judicial powers of the people are exercised by parliament is a total misrepresentation and misinterpretation of People’s sovereignty. Judicial powers of the People are exercised through parliament by an “independent judiciary” guaranteed by the Constitution, with the Supreme Court and the Appeal Courts established as superior courts. They have the independence and a constitutional mandate to decide, the constitutionality of any legislative draft the parliament would debate and approve and instruct the parliament on amendments necessary to make them into law, in exercising the judicial powers of the people.

Most importantly, people have the right to seek legal redress in instances when they believe their sovereignty is trespassed upon by parliament to the extent that their rights and well-being are infringed and violated. This parliament and governments have often been anti-people and it is the judiciary people then fall back on for redress. If in this instance people’s allegations on debt optimization are proved right, both the legislature and the executive are legally and morally bound to abide by the advice/ruling of the superior courts.

We, therefore, wish to forewarn President and his government, any arrogance and refusal to honour judicial advice/ruling on debt optimization in relation to EPF and other superannuation funds may lead to people’s sovereignty being exercised openly in challenging the executive once again, with 2.5 million citizens as employees in the private sector being active members and as contributing owners of the EPF.          

1. Ceylon Bank Employees Union
2. Sri Lanka Nidhas Sewaka Sangamaya
3. Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union
4. Inter Company Employees Union
5. Sri Lanka National Union of Seafarers
6. Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial and General Workers’ Union
7. Ceylon Estate Staff’ Union
8. Ceylon Federation of Trade Unions
9. Lanka Jathika Estate Workers’ Union
10. National Union of Workers
11. Ceylon Federation of Labour
12. Joint Plantation Trade Union Center
13. United Plantation Workers union

For and on behalf of the above-mentioned unions,

Anton Marcus

Joint Secretary
Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union

by     (2023-08-07 20:04:22)

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