The Supreme Court yesterday issued an Interim Order suspending the operation of the Administrative Standing Instructions of the Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, Justices K.Sripavan and Sathya Hettige issued the Interim Order until the final determination of the fundamental rights petition filed by Northern Province Chief Secretary challenging the Chief Minister’s interference with her employment and his bid to remove her from office.
The Court granted leave to proceed with her rights application for the alleged infringement of her fundamental rights to equality and equal protection of law as well as her fundamental rights to the freedom to engage herself or in association with others in any lawful occupation and the freedom of movement.
The matter is fixed for hearing on July 14.
Some of the impugned instructions issued by the Chief Minister are as follows:
1. Except in instances relating to matters explicitly indicated in the Constitution all reporting and submissions to the Governor and to any others outside the Provincial Council shall be done only with knowledge of the Minister in charge. The Chief Secretary, Secretaries and Heads of departments will be held responsible for any breach of communication channel at their respective levels.
2. Senior officers shall travel out of Province only with the prior approval namely Chief Secretary approved by the Chief Minister.
3. All Staff officers who are required to attend programs outside the working stations shall work on a monthly advance program with prior approval namely Chief Secretary approved by Chief Minister.
4. All appointments including contract appointments and re-employment of all category and inducting of any officer of the All Island Services in to the Provincial Administration should be done with the prior approval of the Board of Ministers.
5. All annual transfers and other transfers in-between shall have an ultimate object of strictly enforcing the transfer policies at least until the end of next two years.
6. Any transfer into the Provincial council and out of Provincial council should have the prior approval of the Board of Ministers.
7. No officer without permission from the Chief Minister shall have any media conference on their own. All enquiries by the media should be directed to the Media Unit. No information pertaining to the activities of the Provincial Council should be released without the concurrence of the Ministers concerned.
Chief Secretary Wijeledchumi Ramesh cited Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, Northern Governor G. Chandrasiri and Members of the Public Service Commission, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration & Home Affairs as well as the Attorney General as Respondents.
Gomin Dayasiri appeared for the Petitioner. Palitha Gamage appeared for the Governor. Senior State Council Nerin Pulle appeared for Secretary to the President and the Attorney General. Petitioner was not present and unrepresented. She is seeking the Court for a declaration that the Chief Minister has infringed and/or is causing imminent infringement of her fundamental rights.
She is also seeking the Court for a declaration that the Chief Minister is attempting to remove her from her office and/or his interference with and/or attempting to interfere with her power and/or her duties which has infringed her fundamental rights.
She laments that the conduct of the Chief Minister in attempting to interfere with her employment and attempting to remove her from the office of Chief Secretary is wrongful and/or illegal and/or arbitrary and/or capricious and/or discriminatory and is in complete violation of her fundamental rights to equality and equal protection of the law as well as discrimination on the grounds of political grounds.
She bemoans that the conduct of the Chief Minister is also complete violation of her fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to engage herself or in association with others in any lawful occupation.
She maintains that neither the Constitution nor the Provincial Council Act grants the power to the Provincial Council of the Chief Minister upon their election to the Provincial Council, transfer and/or remove and/or interfere with the employment or conditions of the employment of the incumbent Chief Secretary of a Province.
She states the Chief Secretaries of other Provinces have not been changed or removed as a consequent of any political change in the Provincial Councils subsequent to election.
She further states that the Chief Secretaries of all provinces of Sri Lanka have been appointed in terms of Provincial Council Act by the President. She contends that as such their appointments and removals and service conditions are under the purview of the President who exercises his authority through the President’s Secretary and the Governors of the Provinces.
She keeps up that in her capacity as Chief Secretary of the Province, her appointment, dismissal and conditions of service inclusive of powers and authority conferred on her fall within the purview of the President who exercises his authority through the President’s Secretary and the Governor by statutory and/or administration process unless delegated.
She states the Northern Province Chief Minister, in blatant, and intentional violation of her powers and duties conferred under the Constitution and Provincial Council Act has directed that appointments inclusively contract appointment and re-employments of all category and induction of any officers of the all Island Services into the Provincial Council Administration should be done with prior approval of the Board of Ministers of the Province.
She claims whereas the induction of any officer of the all island services into the provincial administration is exercised by the Chief Secretary in terms of existing law and all appointments are effected by the Provincial Public Services Commission who are delegated with such power in terms of Provincial Council Act.(S.S.Selvanayagam)