COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan court on Wednesday postponed until next month the hearing of a petition restraining Mahinda Rajapaksa and his purported government from functioning amidst a political crisis that erupted after the sacking of premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Sri Lanka is going through a major political crisis since October 26 when President Maithripala Sirisena, in a controversial move, removed Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.
The Appeal Court ordered to hear the petition filed by 122 Members of Parliament on January 16, 17 and 18.
Parliamentarians of Wickremesinghe's UNP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Tamil National Alliance on November 23 filed the petition in the Court of Appeal challenging Rajapaksa on continuing to hold the office of Prime Minister after a no-confidence motion was passed in Parliament against him.
The order means that the current political crisis will spill over to the new year.
When the case was taken up on Wednesday, Rajapaksa's lawyers pleaded that the case be dismissed for not sending notices with full briefs to all respondents.
However, the court overruled the objection, saying that notices had been sent to all parties.
On December 3, the Court of Appeal issued an interim order which stripped Rajapaksa of his prime ministerial position.
Rajapaksa's appeal filed against the interim order is to be taken up on Wednesday afternoon, lawyers said.
Another crucial ruling to be delivered by the Supreme Court this week in a case against Sirisena's alleged illegal sacking of Parliament.
Sirisena, after sacking Wickremesinghe on October 26, dissolved Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5.
However, the Supreme Court overturned his decision and halted the preparations for snap polls.
Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa both claim to be the prime ministers with the former claiming that his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament.
Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe's UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.
Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament.
The President has said that due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe, he would not reappoint him as the Prime Minister.
However, Wickremesinghe's UNP claims that Sirisena will be left with no choice as he would be the man who will command the confidence in the House.