04 October 2019
PLENARY POWERS NATIONAL OR FAMILY?
Yesterday when a Tamil Youth leader visited us I handed over to him few copies of my book ‘Jaffna is my heritage ; not dowry’. This leader is very appreciative of the service rendered when he needed it at the workplace. I believe that to the extent he undertakes this as ‘service’ – he ‘inherits’ my investment in work values. That book is of service value because I make no profit – money nor status – for having that experience and sharing that experience with others in the community. It is my parallel of ‘Buddhism Foremost’ article in the Sri Lankan Constitution. The young guy may not read it himself. But to the extent he does what he can – with ‘Service Attitude’ he automatically gets a share of my Energy. To my mind, that is heritage.
When I read in the Financial Times article ‘Legal battle over Gota’s citizenship status begins’ – the following, I smiled :
[Petitioners’ Counsel says dual citizenship certificate ‘nothing but a blank sheet of paper’]
That was the question put to me by the prosecutor in relation to the following in the letter dated 21 October 2004 written by the Vice Chancellor of the University of NSW:
‘As Vice -Chancellor of the University I must instruct you not to come to my office unless you are specifically invited by me to do so’
I responded as follows:
[Which UNSW rule gives you this right to instruct me and instruct me not to come unless invited by you? If you do have such a rule, which law does it flow from? I am coming on University business and it’s the LAW that says what University Business is and not persons without the position backing. The position backing flows from the law and the job description of your position. I strongly suggest that if you are fearful of meeting with me, that you delegate your responsibilities to someone who is less fearful of the Truth.]
During the Court Proceedings – the prosecutor asked me whether that letter was not worth the paper it was written on? Hence I smiled to myself – recalling the commonness with this experience in relation to the Dual Citizenship application by Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
As per the above article :
[AG argues President has “plenary Executive power”, all powers reposed in President until ministries are assigned]
The plenary powers I used on 22 October 2004 were expressed as follows:
[I will soon leave toward your office. I am wearing sari because I have been asked to speak at the Saraswathee Poojah celebration tonight by the Hindu community. If I do not turn up, they will learn the reason why. Many of those families have students and staff at the University. Saraswathee is the Goddess of Education. This is hands-on education for them, in how to override ignorance through non violent communications]
This is also the Divine period when Hindus celebrate the Goddess of Education – Saraswathee. My belief in education rendered me that authority to express as above at an institution of Higher Education. Gandhi expressed his plenary powers as follows:
[Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is the last article of my faith. But I had to make my choice. I had either to submit to a system which I considered has done an irreparable harm to my country, or incur the risk of the mad fury of my people bursting forth when they understood the truth from my lip]
Gandhi acted unlawfully due to his belief but he also accepted the punishment as per the law.
In the case of Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s application – it was made to the Minister who did not have plenary powers – the basis of which is Belief. As per Article 44 (2) of the Constitution as it then existed - the President had the authority to exercise Executive powers as if he were the Minister for Internal & Home Affairs. This is different to the President acting as President through Governing Powers. The current President exercised similar powers in October 2018 – and the Court set aside that decision. The Exercise of plenary powers need to be through pure belief in the whole and after following Due Processes – step by step. Those Due Processes are the Energy of those before us and/or above us. Where we believe in them completely – we do not need relative powers – known as Executive powers. In this instance if Mr Gotabhaya Rajapkasa believed he was Sri Lankan – that rendered him the plenary powers to apply. But the Minister concerned needed to go through step by step the processes of verification – including whether there were any impediments in the ‘foreigner of Sri Lankan origin’ – in that foreign land.
Section 19(3) of the Citizenship Act highlights this as follows:
(3) Any citizen of Sri Lanka may, at any time prior to his ceasing, under subsection (1) of this section or section 20 or section 21, to be a citizen of Sri Lanka, make application to the Minister for a declaration that such person retains the status of a citizen of Sri Lanka from and after a date to be specified in such declaration, notwithstanding the fact that he is, and continues to be, from and after that date a citizen of any other country; and the Minister may make the declaration ; for which application is made, if he is satisfied that the making of such declaration, would, in all the circumstances of the case, be of benefit to Sri Lanka.
The Minister needed to satisfy her/himself that the approval was beneficial to Sri Lanka . This requirement of benefits makes it relative and therefore one needs Executive power and Accountable process in determining eligibility.
In addition – given that Mr Gotabhaya Rajapkasa was the brother of the then President – one needs to dismiss the decision using plenary powers – for one does not know whether it was the family interest or national interest that was being relied upon. Conflict of Interest needs to be ruled out before application of Plenary Powers.