‘Country suffers Rs. 7 bn loss due to MPs’duty free vehicle racket
Posted on March 16th, 2017
By Chitra Weeraratne and Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island
March 16, 2017, 10:38 pm
The Supreme Court was yesterday informed that members of Parliament representing all political parties had caused losses amounting to over Rs 7 bn by selling duty free vehicle permits without proper legal sanction.
Among them are members of the yahapalana administration, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as well as the Joint Opposition loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The bench comprised newly appointed Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Justice Sisira de Abrew and Justice Priyantha Jayawardena.
Attorney-at-law and public litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku informed the court that out of those vehicles sold so far, 45 were already registered under new owners. Names of sellers and buyers of nearly 40 vehicles were submitted to SC by Kodituwakku.
Kodituwakku has obtained the names of both sellers and buyers from the Motor Traffic Department on the basis of the Right to Information Act.
At the beginning of the proceedings, Deputy Solicitor General Viraj Dayaratne, who appeared for the Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya said that the CIABOC had initiated investigations into the alleged sale of duty free vehicle permits. Dayaratne requested that a case, filed by Kodituwakku against the CIABOC in the Supreme Court, be withdrawn as investigations were underway.
When Chief Justice Dep sought Kodituwakku’s opinion, the latter said that he had no faith in the CIABOC and requested the SC to direct the institution to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the duty-free permit scam. Kodituwakku declined to withdraw his case.
Members have received tax exemption ranging from Rs 30 mn to Rs 44 mn.
Quoting the Supreme Court judgment delivered in respect of the Grand Central case, Kodituwakku said that in the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the people in terms of Article 3 of the Constitution and the Attorney General shall represent and act for the people of Sri Lanka.
The petitioner said that his fundamental rights had been violated by the failure on the part of the CIABOC to inquire into his complaint submitted several months back in respect of duty free vehicle permit scam.
He said that the CIABOC had facilitated a project launched by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to impeach the then Chief Justice, 43, Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake and, therefore, he had no faith in the institution.
Dr. Bandaranayake was impeached on January 11, 2013.
Kodituwakku said the CIABOC had filed three cases against Justice Bandaranayake in Colombo Chief Magistrate’s court. On the basis of the CIABOC action, the court charged Bandaranayake on two counts in three different cases under Section 9 (1) of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act No 01 of 1975.
Kodituwakku has pointed out that the CIABOC had moved the Colombo Chief Magistrate court against Bandaranayake during the Rajapaksa administration had subsequently withdrawn three cases in Feb. 2016.
The then Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya exonerated her and ordered that her passport be returned to her immediately.
Kodituwakku asked the court how people could repose their faith in the CIABOC, which had treated the head of the judiciary in such a despicable way.
The petitioner called for action to recover money owed to the government.
The fundamental rights petition will be called before the Supreme Court on May 9.