President immune to judicial process – AG
Posted on July 14th, 2020

Lakmal Sooriyagoda Courtesy The Daily News

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa informed Court of Appeal that summons issued by Jaffna Magistrate’s Court requiring President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appear before Jaffna Magistrate’s Court as a witness in connection with the Habeas Corpus inquiry into the disappearance of two human rights activists Lalith and Kugan, cannot be maintained since he holds the post of President in the country.

Senior State Counsel Wasantha Perera appearing for the Attorney General informed that the President was immune to the judicial process in terms of Article 35 (1) of the Constitution.

 However, Counsel Nuwan Bopage appearing for the respondents informed the Court of Appeal that there is no constitutional barrier to summon the President as a witness in a fact finding inquiry.

Taking into consideration the facts, Court of Appeal President Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna ordered the parties to file their written submissions before August 26.

On September 24, 2019, Court of Appeal had issued an Interim Order staying summons requiring then presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court on September 27, 2019. The Court of Appeal had made this order pursuant to a petition filed by Mr. Rajapaksa citing urgency and security reasons. The Court had issued this order in connection with the Habeas Corpus inquiry into the disappearance of two human rights activists, Lalith and Kugan, who went missing in December 2011 when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was serving as the Defence Secretary.

In his petition, Rajapaksa stated that he received summons through Magistrate’s Court of Jaffna to attend and give evidence in connection with the Habeas Corpus inquiry. Human Rights and political activists Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan went missing on December 9, 2011.

The petitioner states that the petitioner in the capacity as the Defence Secretary facilitated logistical and strategic support to be obtained through the government to the forces during the war which eradicated the separatist outfit namely the LTTE who operated heavily in the Eastern and Northern parts of Sri Lanka.

The petitioner states that the said threats continue to loom time and time again including the most recent occurrence wherein investigations are underway to ascertain any treat to assassinate the petitioner and several other high-ranking members of the military and in the government.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva under the instructions of Counsel Sanath Wijewardena appeared for petitioner Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Senior State Counsel Wasantha Perera appeared for the Attorney General. Counsel Nuwan Bopage appeared for the respondents.

One Response to “President immune to judicial process – AG”

  1. Nimal Says:

    I think no one should be above the law and there should be checks and balances even for the head of state.

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