Hundreds of Buddhist monks and laymen yesterday staged a mass demonstration opposite the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy protesting against the attack on the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and against the government for not providing adequate security to the Maligawa.
The demonstration, led by the Kandurata Tri Nikaya Bhikkhu Sangamaya and Kandurata Ekabadda Buddha Sasana Sangamaya, lasted one-and-a-half hours.
The monks then went into the Maha Maluwa to stage a Satyagraha followed by the people who had gathered, in spite of the riot squad trying to prevent them.
Once the Satyagraha was over the monks and the people dispersed peacefully at 4.30 p.m.
The knee jerk reaction by the government to ban the LTTE following the recent bombing of the Dalada Maligawa has led to intense controversy over the legal effect of such a ban.
The question is, can whatever mere statements by the government that the LTTE has been banned have any force or effect in law?
Sources at the Legal Draftsman’s Department disclaimed all knowledge of any new legislation proscribing the LTTE, adding that “The Department does not know as the regulations may be gazetted by the Ministry of Defence”.
To proscribe a political party the party must be listed as such. The LTTE is not listed as a political party in the 1994 list.
Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dissanayake told The Sunday Times that he is “quite positive that the LTTE is not a political party.”
However, he did state that the ‘People’s Front of Liberation Tigers’ (PFLT) is listed as a political party in the 1994 list, but according to him, this was a different party.
Both legal and political opinion confirmed to The Sunday Times that the PFLT is an offshoot of the LTTE, just as the DJVP was an arm of the JVP in the past.
Lawyers are in conflict over whether a party can be proscribed if it is not listed as a political party, and whether the President can resort to Emergency measures to proscribe a political party.
Earlier, the President was given the power under emergency laws to ban a political party. This regulation was however repealed in the time of President J.R Jayewardene.
While senior lawyer S L Gunasekera holds that proscribing of the LTTE can be done under Emergency Laws. others are of a different opinion.
TULF members Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam said that “There had been an earlier law specifically proscribing the LTTE which was rated for only one year and lapsed in 1979. To now proscribe the LTTE, there has to be legislation passed by Parliament.
A leading lawyer associated with the UNP confirmed this view, pointing out that as it appears that a party could be proscribed only it if is a political party.
Either the PFLT has to be banned, or an Act of Parliament has to be passed to ban the LTTE.”
International Bar Association President Desmond Fernando said “I can only guess the new regulation may have been initiated by the President so far, I am told that the Legal Draftman’s Department is unaware of any such laws.”
Meanwhile, Kumar Ponnambalam of the All Ceylon Tamill Congress said “To ban the LTTE, what is the law? It looks as if a decision to ban a political party can be made by a cook or a driver by saying ‘ban the party’.
“What sort of tom-foolery is this, no doubt the LTTE have phoo-phooed the whole thing and we have made our country a joke by proscribing the LTTE without any recourse to Parliament.
“Anyway what are the legal provisions to do so?
“I think that the Opposition should bring in a vote of no confidence in the government for making our country a joke in world opinion.
“The only warrant for a substantial legal basis to proscribe the LTTE has been made by Indian High Court Judge N. Ramachandra who has made order that be produced before him Velupillai Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman in High Courts on February 27th.
Legal opinion conjectures that may be the President has requested the drafting of some new laws to make the proscribing valid, but so far no one seems to know anything about it. Nothing has been gazetted so far was the opinion expressed.
In the debris of the aborted independence golden jubilee celebrations in Kandy, revelations are emerging on losses and other expenditure running into tens of millions.
The Sunday Times learns that about 10 million rupees had been allocated for the renovation and refurbishing of the Bogambara stadium and its pavilion where the main independence celebrations were to be held with a huge cultural pageant involving some 5000 school children.
The expenditure to colourwash and redecorate the Kandy kachcheri was around Rs. two million while road repairs and other rebuilding projects would also have cost millions.
The losses to Kandy hotelliers and other businessmen were also extensive. Officials of the Queens and Suisse hotels said yesterday hundreds of hotel room bookings had been cancelled by various ministries, the British High Commission and others.
Among other items of high expenditure for the golden jubilee show were Rs. 36 million for French horses and Rs. 12 million for two luxury vehicles.
The UNP rejecting the PA proposals for power devolution in its present form has presented its alternative proposals which seek to introduce sweeping changes in the constitutional reform process.
The UNP has also charged the government of not taking any positive steps regarding the initial proposals made by the Opposition.
The UNP has proposed the creation of a second chamber consisting of sixty members with not less than one third of its membership reserved for minorities and introduction of a modified executive system with two vice presidents in addition to the president.
UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told, ‘The Sunday Times’ that the UNP’s proposals were essentially new and were formulated after serious consideration of the present situation.
He added that the UNP’s stance was to introduce a two-pronged power sharing process for which there should be maximum power devolution at the provincial level coupled with national power sharing among the communities at the centre.
The UNP is expected to present its second set of proposals mainly dealing with power devolution to the provinces within the next two weeks.
Former Wesley College Principal Rev. James Cartman passed away in London last Thursday. He was 85.
As Principal from 1945 to 1949 Wesley sports reached a high standards in 1947.
Wesley beat both Royal and S. Thomas at cricket.
He was the first president of Ceylon School Cricket Association and played for the Colombo Cricket Club.
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