‘Criminal liability cannot be avoided by private arrangement’ Jaffna UNP MP’s call for reviving LTTE:
Posted on July 31st, 2018

Criminal liability couldn’t be avoided by ‘private arrangement’ under any circumstances, top constitutional lawyer Manohara de Silva PC said yesterday.

There was inordinate delay on the part of the Attorney General in dealing with Jaffna District UNP MP and former State Minister for Child Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran over her July 2 call for revival of the LTTE, De Silva said.

The previous government brought the war to a successful conclusion in May 2009.

The President’s Counsel said so when The Island asked him whether legal action was needed to be taken against the lawmaker in the wake of the UNP promising further disciplinary action in addition to Maheswaran’s resignation from her ministerial post.

Manohara de Silva said that the media, too, was responsible to a certain extent for its ‘poor’ reportage of the developments following Mrs. Maheswaran’s controversial speech at the Weerasingham Hall, Jaffna in the presence of several serving politicians, including Foreign Minister and former Attorney General Tilak Marapana and Public Administration Minister Vajira Abeywardena.

De Silva said that Mrs. Maheswaran quit her portfolio on July 5 following the uproar in parliament while Speaker Karu Jayasuriya sought the Attorney General’s opinion.

“Let me explain. The UNP taking action against Mrs. Maheswaran is an internal matter. But, such action cannot justify the Attorney General neglecting his responsibilities,” De Silva said.

Asked whether the Attorney General had to file an indictment in accordance with Article 157 A against Mrs Maheswaran within a stipulated time frame, the President’s Counsel said: “No specific time but within reasonable time.”

The senior attorney at law pointed out that a month had lapsed since Mrs. Maheswaran threw her weight behind the LTTE rump. Commenting on Speaker Jayasuriya seeking Attorney General’s opinion on Mrs. Maheswaran’ s statement, the President’s Counsel said the Attorney General could act on his own.

Vijayakala successfully contested the Jaffna electoral District on the UNP ticket after the LTTE assassinated her husband MP T. Maheswaran on January 1, 2008, at Kotahena.

Maheswaran’s LTTE assassin was sentenced to death by Colombo High Court Judge Sunil Rajapaksha on Aug 27, 2012.

Asked whether the Joint Opposition or some nationalist organization could intervene in this matter, Manohara de Silva said now that the Attorney General had refrained from acting in this regard, the Court of Appeal could be moved by anyone.

The Attorney General could be made to fulfill his obligations by filing a writ of mandamus, he said.

The constitutional lawyer pointed out that in accordance with Article 157 A, even indirectly supporting secession was also an indictable offence.

The police could not take action as only the Attorney had the power to indict a person.

President’s Counsel recently told The Island that as there was sufficient evidence that the primary objective of the LTTE was to divide the country on ethnic lines, reviving the terrorist group therefore amounted to encouraging terrorism.

He said that the government and the Opposition ignored previous attempts by Mrs. Maheswaran to incite people. In Dec 2017, the then State Minister alleged in Jaffna that 200,000 Tamils had been massacred along with their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in the final phase of the war in 2009. Such a claim was meant to influence the Tamil electorate at Feb 10, 2018 Local Government polls, the National Joint Committee member said, asserting the battle among Tamil politicians shouldn’t be at Sri Lanka’s expense.

Manohara de Silva said that Mrs. Maheswaran’s conduct as a parliamentarian should have been scrutinized long before her July 2 speech. Once she compared President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe with terrorist leader Velupillai Prabhakaran at a government event in the northern province, the President’s Counsel said. Unfortunately, Mrs. Maheswaran escaped disciplinary action thereby paving the way for the ultimate challenge to the government.

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