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Removing PUCSL Chair via Parliament a threat to democracy and good governance: Eran


Judicial Precedence proves independent commissioners can seek court order to ensure their orders carried out

Eran Wickramartne MP speaking on the debate of the resolution to remove the Public Utility Commission Chairman, asked the government that what was the great sin committed by him?

The Chairman had asked the CEB to maintain the electricity supply continuously during the GCE Advanced Level examination period. He had also asked to charge the electricity tariff more from those who consume more, and less from those who consume electricity lesser, and what is the wrong in it? Wickramaratne questioned

Further speaking in Parliament Wednesday he said that  we are moving a resolution to undermine the independent commissions where actually removing a chairman of an independent commission.

The Chairman, Janaka Ratnayake and family, what we have heard was not allowed in to the gallery of parliament today.  We completely deplore this action. Even if a person is convicted in a court of law the person can be present there. So Why not he has no voice here. But at least as an observer to listen to the arguments that are made against him ,he has not been allowed.

But we are allowing an MP who has smuggled Gold and coming to the parliament today to vote on this resolution . There is a lot where all of us have to rethink about our behaviours.  In a case in 1999 against Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake by Karunathillake  (SL Law Reports  157 Page 182 ) where it says Supreme Court said that should the first respondent have insisted on the poll being held on the 28th of August 1998.

While appreciating the difficult situation in which he was nevertheless it is necessary to remember that the constitution assures him independence, so that he may  fearlessly insists on basically pursue his thoughts. So what the court said here was that an independent commission or commissioner can go to court to make sure that their orders and directives are carried out.

So the PUSL  chairman has done the right thing. Intimidation and interference of independent commission will cause fear in all commissions and commissioners and it’s a threat to democracy in this country.

Countries world over moving from democratization and globalization in to good governance. This is evident in institutional changes. The principal – agent relationship created between policy makers and independent commissions. This is a new trend in the world over.

It’s a ruled based methods where rules are clearly indicated and defined. And it is also shaping preferences where everything is not determined by just majoritarian votes of national politics

But, Sri Lankan Parliament has a bizarre records on some of these issues. We have had members in this chamber who voted for independent commissions in the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Then the same people in 18th Amendment voted to abolish the independent commissions. Once again we brought in independent commissions with the 19th Amendment. 

Then in the 20th Amendment we brought another clause creating an authoritarian system putting all the powers in one individual. Then we brought the 21st Amendment to reintroduce the independent commissions. This is the records of Sri Lankan Parliament and some MPs who have been voting on all these amendments.

Wickramaratne said that was why after 2019, the opinion that all the 225 MPs should be chased away became popular among the electors. Now the parliament is debating to expel a chairman of an independent commission causing threats and intimidation to all such other commissions today.

It is not possible to implement a permanent development program needed for the country by this Parliament which has a distorted and manipulated representation against the public mandate. This  government does not have a proper action plan.

He also emphasized that what we need to do as a solution is to go ahead before the general public and face a general election and form a new government to which the SJB was ready with proper plans

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