Dangling on Dual Citizenship
Posted on May 29th, 2017

By Thashani Gunasekara Courtesy The Daily Mirror

A lot of hue and cry has been made at Parliament over the past couple of months with the Court of Appeal issuing a Writ of Quo Warranto disqualifying the UPFA Member of Parliament, Geetha Kumarasinghe holding office as an MP on May 3, 2017 under the claim that Ms. Kumarasinghe was holding dual citizenship at the time of seeking nomination to enter Parliament and failed to renounce from the dual citizen status before contesting at the elections from the Galle district in August 2015 as opposed to the 19th Amendment enacted by President Maithripala Sirisena after entering office in January 2015. But on May 15, 2017, there has been an extended interim relief granted in favour of appellant Geetha Kumarasinghe by the Supreme Court.

 The decision made by court is currently pending and the appeal is to be argued in Supreme Court on September 25, 2017. No matter what would be said and done, this incident would have a butterfly effect on Parliament for sure.

Decision Pending; Trial on Time Out

This is an instance which challenges only Geetha Kumarasinghe occupying the position of MP under dual citizenship status. If she faces disqualification, the next person in line in the list of names would assume the position and an election would not be held in any case.”- Srinath Perera
To get further comprehension on the backgrounds of the pending matter in hand, the Daily Mirror spoke to reputed Constitutional lawyer and politician Srinath Perera PC.


Starting off from square one, Srinath Perera was asked to specify on the grounds on which the 19th Amendment suggested Geetha Kumarasinghe’s disqualification. He said that certain reasons for disqualification of a candidate at the elections were laid down under Article 91 of the Constitution but was amended under President Sirisena where it was stated that dual citizenship was also another reason for disqualification. Under article 91 and sub paragraph (1) (d) (xiii) of the Constitution, persons who are dual citizens are disqualified from being elected as Members of Parliament or the President of the Republic. The Constitution stipulates – No person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament if he/she is a citizen of Sri Lanka who is also a citizen of any other country. So Ms. Kumarasinghe is challenged under this amendment as she is thought to have been holding dual citizenship while bearing a post in Parliament.”

Nobody knew about it. Those who must have known about it were not interested. Somebody who became aware of it must have been interested and filed papers against it. That is when the investigations and court cases started


This amendment came into operation on May 15, 2015 and she contested at the elections on August 17, 2015. This amendment came into operation prior to the election.” He further stated.
Geetha took oath on September 1, 2015, so the revelation of her holding a dual citizenship after two years is a long time. Why hadn’t anyone brought this up before? What had provoked the revelation this year? Won’t the time issue provide a legal barrier to the case? Nobody knew about it. Those who must have known about it were not interested. Somebody who became aware of it must have been interested and filed papers against it. That is when the investigations and court cases started.”

Considering the possibility of her disqualification, and if she loses her post, there will be a vacant seat in Parliament. Then there would be a big question mark left in the eyes of many. Speculations, perhaps for another election may sprout up. This is an instance which challenges only Ms. Kumarasinghe occupying the position of MP under dual citizenship status. If she faces disqualification, the next person in line in the list of names would assume the position. An election would not be held in any case. Parliamentary elections are held district wise. There would be a certain number of members that could be chosen from each district. Now in Colombo, the number stands at 21.What is normally done is names of another three individuals in addition to the 21 would be added to a list. Each party has to submit a list of 24 names i.e. Colombo district. These are the people who are contesting at the elections. The Elections Commissioner would then give each contestant a number. When the final counting of votes are completed, the number of contestants would be allotted from that particular party. The contestant who had obtained the highest number of votes would be elected.

The fact that despite her disqualification, it does not affect the others whose names appear in the list. There are certain specific grounds under which the list of names could be rejected

In the list of names given, there would also be names of a few other contestants who had not polled sufficient votes would be considered disqualified and would lose the chance of entering Parliament. The name of the other contestant who is listed next who had just missed a seat in Parliament, would be given the seat instead.”

Referring to the possibility that Ms. Kumarasinghe is found guilty, won’t the list of names, that includes her name be challenged, and hence, an election would be called for? The fact that despite her disqualification, it does not affect the others whose names appear in the list. There are certain specific grounds under which the list of names could be rejected. Once it is accepted, nobody can challenge. The court has issued a writ of quo warranto, which will only subject Ms. Kumarasinghe to disqualification given that she is proved guilty as charged. That court’s decision will not in any event affect the rights of others who have been elected. Because the simple principle here is that Geetha’s election has only been challenged in particular. When the names are entered in a list, they add the names of three persons – more than the number that could be elected. All the chosen candidates are not elected from the same party. There have been a number of others who have contested in the list available. So, if Geetha faces disqualification, the next person in line with the highest number of votes will be given the post,” said Srinath Perera when he was queried about the list.

This is an instance which challenges only Geetha Kumarasinghe occupying the position of MP under dual citizenship status. If she faces disqualification, the next person in line in the list of names would assume the position and an election would not be held in any case

There are various notions that other MPs who hold dual citizenships came into the existence with this whole event. If there is any truth to this tale, the list may contain names of parliamentarians with dual citizenships. We asked Srinath Perera PC what would happen in such a circumstance, he said Like I mentioned previously, this is an instance which would disqualify the challenged individual only. In my understanding, to be fair, if another candidate in the list who also holds dual citizenship, he/she should be rejected and eliminated from the list as well.”
Once an MP is disqualified under a particular accusation, and in this case due to dual citizen status, one does naturally bear in mind the question whether the accused stands a chance to compete in the elections as a candidate again. If a person is disqualified as an MP, namely referring to Geetha Kumarasinghe in this case, she could contest in the next elections provided that she had annulled her dual citizenship before the next nomination date, and hence, she would stand a chance to be nominated again.”

– See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Dangling-on-Dual-Citizenship-129875.html#sthash.rBlV98Ge.dpuf

2 Responses to “Dangling on Dual Citizenship”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    19A is a violation of fundamental rights. Sri Lankans have different rights based on their citizenship status of other countries! Some Sri Lankans can enter parliament while others cannot. This is gross discrimination.

    Everybody knows this provision was included to keep Gotabhaya and Basil out of parliament. Interestingly, a citizen of another country can contest for president – the first citizen of the country! This is to leave room for Vimukthi to take the reigns of the nation in 2019 or later.

    19A and 17A must be removed from the Constitution as a matter of priority by a future government along with 13A. While 17A and 19A hold down the parliament and delegate its powers to unelected persons of commissions (elected not by the people but appointed by politicians), 13A gives provincial councils a free hand to exercise their powers and much more.

    However, it gets even worse. Only Geetha is accused, investigated and even suspended from parliament. UNP and TNA have a number of citizens of other countries. The law has been bent (as the police chief brazenly boasted). There is no excuse or justification for such gross discrimination and victimization of political opponents.

    It is futile to discuss about elections in a country with no elections! Today, Sri Lanka is an absolute dictatorship very similar to North Korea. The president and prime minister escape from country when faced with natural disasters.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    We DON’T want dual citizens in ANY govt. political function. President or parliament. They have to CHOOSE if they want SL or another country. Not both.

    Dual citizens are BOUND by two oaths of allegiance. SL and USA (or whatever). Sometimes this creates problems.

    We need DEDICATED SLs to serve SL. You cannot serve 2 masters.

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