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POSTED AT 09:54 AM 01-02-2019

Justice Wijesundera declines to hear writ petition against Ranil

Court of Appeal (acting President) Justice Deepali Wijesundera yesterday declined to sit on the Bench regarding a writ petition filed challenging UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Parliamentary seat. The petition was differed for today (01) to fix for a support date.

This petition had sought an order in the nature of a writ of quo warranto declaring that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as a Member of Parliament void and that he has no right to continue to hold office as a Member of Parliament.

When the matter came up before Court of Appeal Justice Deepali Wijesundera and Justice Arjuna Obeysekara, Justice Wijesundera declined to sit on the Bench pertaining to this writ petition.

This petition was filed by Sharmila Roweena Jayawardene Gonawela, a member of Colombo Municipal Council representing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.

The petitioner cited UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake, the Bank of Ceylon and the People’s Bank as respondents.

The petitioner alleged that first respondent Ranil Wickremesinghe held, as at the time of the Parliamentary Elections were held on August 17, 2015, a financial interest in several contracts entered into by public corporations on behalf of the Republic of Sri Lanka with his family company “Lake House printers & Publishers PLC”, by virtue of his having been a major shareholder of the said company.

The petitioner stated that first respondent Ranil Wickremeasinghe has been declared elected as a Member of parliament from Colombo District at the Parliamentary Elections held in 2015, and to sit and vote in Parliament.

The Petitioner states that the first respondent’s election was illegal for the reasons set out below and is thus an usurper of the authority of a Member of Parliament, and is not qualified to hold the office of a Member of Parliament.

The Petitioner states that Article 91(1)(e) of the Constitution of the Republic bars individuals who hold any interest in public contracts from election as a Member of Parliament.

The petitioner states that as held in Dilan Perera vs Rajitha Senaratne(2000 (2) S.L.R. 79),that under prevailing law, Article 91(1)(e) of the Constitution disqualifies a person to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in parliament” if he, directly or indirectly by himself or by any person on his behalf or for his use or benefit, holds, or enjoys any right or benefit under any contract made by or on behalf of the (Republic of Sri Lanka)in respect of the Government of the Island for the furnishing or providing of money to be remitted abroad or of goods or services to be used or employed in the service of the (Republic of Sri Lanka) in the Island.”

President’s Counsel Uditha Egalahewa appeared for the petitioner. President’s Counsel K. Kanag-Iswaran with Counsel Niranjan Arulpragasam under the instruction of Senior Counsel G.G. Arulpragasam appeared for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Counsel Suren Fernando under the instruction of senior counsel G.G. Arulpragasam appeared for UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.

Lakmal Sooriyagoda