There was much talk about crossovers and the recent judgement by a
three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that upheld party disciplinary
action and justified expulsions.
The judgement effectively cost Naseer Ahamed his seat in the present
government and his ministerial portfolio.
The high command of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) of which
he was a member, expelled him after he showed his disloyalty to the
party whip by voting in favour of the 2021 budget when the party, as a
collective, had already decided to vote against it. Members also had the
option to abstain. Contrary to the decision, Ahamed went one step
ahead and voted for the ruling party, described by the party hierarchy
as a sheer betrayal of the SLMC, from which he became a member of
Parliament. Ahamad failed to appear before the disciplinary committee
despite summons being issued by the SLMC hierarchy. Subsequently,
the member crossed over to the government but did not clarify his
position on whether he received membership of the Sri Lanka Podujana
Peramuna (SLPP).
The 1978 Constitution dealt with party defections, using different
modes and formulas depending on the political atmosphere. At one

stage, the Constitution justified crossovers to the government if eighty
members of Parliament voted with the member who intended to cross
over. The then government of J.R. Jayewardene introduced an
amendment to the Constitution, called the Rajadurai amendment, to
justify such crossovers. President J.R. Jayewardene took advantage of
the situation to consolidate his party, the UNP. While encouraging
Rajadurai to cross over to his fold, Jayewardene expelled two members.
They were the present Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa
Abeywardene and Chandra Kumar Wijegoonewardene for voting
against the 13th amendment to the constitution.
The constitutional provision held against parliamentarians as a sword of
Damocles came in for review by former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva.
The former Chief Justice reversed the unfettered trend enjoyed by
political parties to expel members of Parliament on a party decision
without holding a proper disciplinary inquiry and giving them a fair
hearing. The then Chief Justice added the element of natural justice,
where, as far as most cases are concerned, the political parties failed to
adopt due process. Enticed by various perks on offer to cross the aisle
of Parliament to sit on the other side, many members opted to cross
over to the government for personal gain.
The new trend started with defections by Sarath Amunugama and
Rohitha Bogollagama, who crossed over from the UNP to the Chandrika
Kumaratunga government. There was also a similar case involving
Keheliya Rambukwella which came under the natural justice doctrine.
The leaning towards crossing over increased over time, with a host of
defections, and it culminated with the mass defection initiated by
former UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya, who was instrumental in
crossing over with sixteen others from the UNP to strengthen the hand

of then president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who relentlessly campaigned to
ensure the unitary status of the country.
Jayasuriya, however, encountered difficulties when working with
Rajapaksa since he espoused a modest political outlook with liberal
ideas. Eventually, he left the Rajapaksa fold, while others continued to
patronise them with their political experience. There was a free trend
that guaranteed crossovers until the recent landmark judgement of the
Supreme Court by a bench of three judges comprising Justices Preethi
Padman Surasena, S. Thurairaja, and Mahinda Samayawardene. The
judgement was historical in many aspects, including that it served as a
deterrent for parliamentarians from both sides who were hitherto
unfettered by the party whip.
The judgement by Justice Preethi Padman Surasena and Justice
Thurairajah observed that the decision made by the SLMC to expel the
petitioner, Ahamad, from the party was valid in law.
Justice Mahinda Samayawardene in a separate judgement, held there is
no reason to interfere with the decision of the party to expel petitioner
Naseer Ahamad from party membership.
The application of petitioner Naseer Ahamad was dismissed
accordingly, without costs. The Supreme Court circumvented the
application of the element of natural justice in its decision.
Naseer Ahamad may not have appeared before the disciplinary
committee without proper reason being attributed to his absence. It
was a point taken into consideration by the Supreme Court. SLMC
General Secretary Nizam Kariappar PC has already informed the
Elections Commission of the vacancy that has been created by the
expulsion of Naseer Ahamad, validated by the judgement of the
Supreme Court.

The Parliamentary General Secretary has also acted upon the directive
of the Supreme Court.
Article 99 (13)(a) of the Constitution reads that where an MP ceases, by
resignation, expulsion, or otherwise to be a member of a political party
or independent group, his seat in Parliament shall become vacant upon
the expiration of a period of one month from the date of his ceasing to
be such member. The same principle had been applied in the expulsion
case involving Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali and several
others, which was the last such case upheld by the Supreme Court up
to date.
Soon after the judgement, counsel for the SLMC, M.A. Sumanthiran,
said that the order should come into effect immediately.
The order made by the Supreme Court is likely to put many others on
the razor's edge politically. Prominent among them would be Manusha
Nanayakkara, Diana Gamage, and Harin Fernando, who broke the
Samagi Jana Bala Wegaya (SJB) ranks to join the government. The
Supreme Court has already fixed the trial in the case filed by Manusha
Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando, scheduled for October 12.
It will not stop there; if the ruling SLPP also moves to hold disciplinary
inquiries against others such as Professor G.L. Peiris, Anura
Priyadarshana Yapa, Dullas Allahpperuma and many others who broke
away from the party, they too are likely to land themselves in hot
The party has to expedite the expulsion proceedings in the most
acceptable manner since the members, in any case, would be
compelled to challenge the expulsions in the Supreme Court. However,
time is running out, and there is only a little time left prior to the next

general election of Parliament at the expiry of its term or a dissolution
by the President.
That apart, the new Parliamentarian of the SLMC who will fill the
vacancy is Ali Zaheer Moulana, who has a considerably long history and
was intimately connected to the UNP. He previously entered
Parliament as a Member representing the Batticaloa District under the
United National Party from August 16, 1994, until his resignation on
June 23, 2004.
Moulana became noted for the pivotal role he played in the defection
of prominent members of the LTTE guerrilla group, including its one-
time military commander Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan (Colonel
Karuna), which virtually created a setback for the LTTE.
Moulana resigned his seat in Parliament shortly afterwards due to the
rising threat to his life from the LTTE. Moulana was subsequently
appointed as a high-ranking diplomat at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the
United States. Moulana will have many political opportunities as a
member of the opposition.
Professor G.L. Peiris meanwhile says the next presidential election
should essentially be held before September 2024. However, he says
that if the government is trying to abolish the presidential system
Parliament must be dissolved.
SJB parliamentarian S.M Marikkar says the government ploy is to
extend the term of the president under the pretext of introducing a
new electoral system which necessitates an amendment to the
constitution. In any case, the SJB’s view was that it will not support the
government in obtaining the necessary two-thirds majority to give
effect to the amendment.

SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa also said the party wouldn’t
allow the government to drag the country into a dark period once again
by denying the people their right to elect a new government of their
The relationship between the Catholic Church and the President has
reached a stalemate situation. This was after the President’s interview
with Deutsche Welle (DW) television and his remarks about the
Cardinal and the rest of the Bishop’s Conference. The Bishops
Conference, in no uncertain terms, told the President that the Cardinal
and the Bishops Conference are integral parts of one college and that
nobody should try to single one out from the other. At the same time,
the Bishops Conference made an earnest request from the President to
share the reports compiled by the various international security
agencies he mentioned during the interview.