The Presidency, before and after the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution are of two different types and the individuals who become Presidents after the enactment of this amendment are subjected to be in Office only for two terms and not more than that. The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), Professor G. L. Peiris, claimed yesterday (20).
“The 19th Amendment has abolished the previous Presidency which existed prior to its enactment and substituted in its place a new Presidency.
In this new Presidency, a limitation was introduced that a President can only hold Office for only two terms. But, this does not apply to the past Presidents. There’s a well-known presumption that a statutory provision has only prospective operation and not a retrospective one; that it’ll apply to the future and not to the past. If it does apply to the past, there should be clear words that are used to convey that intention,” he added.
He added that therefore, the term limit , imposed under the 19th Amendment was not applicable to past presidents such as Chandrika Kumaratunga or Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It was also said that the SLPP was working with a group of President’s Counsels and necessary steps will be taken regarding this matter when the new Court session commences in early September.
Article 31(2) of the Constitution, introduced by the 19th Amendment, holds that any person who has been twice elected to the office of the President by the people, is henceforth disqualified from being elected to the same office by the people. Article 30(2) states that the term of office is five years.
Moreover, when the question of the whether the term limit of five years imposed on the President by way of the 19th Amendment was applicable to incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected to office when the 18th Amendment, with its six-year term, was operative, was posed to the Supreme Court by Sirisena in exercise of his consultative jurisdiction, the Court held that the five-year term limit applied to Sirisena.