Justice Minister irked by delay in addressing privilege issue, contempt of court matter -endorses President’s criticism of Parliament
Posted on November 9th, 2022

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, yesterday (08) said that the party leaders were yet to respond to his request for the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to examine TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran’s criticism of the Supreme Court.

Minister Rajapakse said that he was quite disappointment over the inordinate delay on the part of the party leaders.

The Colombo District lawmaker said that he had sought the party leaders’ intervention through Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, about two weeks ago. The Speaker chairs the party leaders’ meeting.

The former President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said that such criticism of the Supreme Court could cause irreparable damage. The Minister expressed the view that the Jaffna district lawmaker’s attack on the SC, pertaining to its ruling on the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, during the two-day debate on the new law, on Oct. 20 and 21, couldn’t be tolerated.

Asked whether the Speaker responded to his request for an inquiry into alleged breach of his parliamentary privileges by the reportage of the proceedings at the Fort Magistrate’s Court in respect of financial scams involving Thico Group of Companies, lawmaker Rajapakse said that matter, too, hadn’t been dealt with yet.

Dr. Rajapaksa told The Island that he raised the privilege issue on Oct. 21, several days before taking up the Contempt of Court matter with the Speaker. The Minister, who is also the Chairperson of MPs’ Ethics and Privileges Committee, said that he requested the Speaker to appoint another lawmaker to head the inquiry. I was prepared to step down of that committee, temporarily,” MP Rajapakse said.

Unfortunately, the Speaker was yet to take action in this regard, the Justice Minister said.

The Ethics and Privileges Committee consists of Dilan Perera, Dullas Alahapperuma, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Kabir Hashim, R. M. Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Thalatha Athukorala, Kanaka Herath, Vijitha Berugoda, Tharaka Balasuriya, Anuradha Jayaratne, G. G. Ponnambalam, Hesha Withanage, Kokila Gunawardene, Weerasumana Weerasinghe and Samanpriya Herath.

In a letter dated Oct. 21, 2022, addressed to the Speaker, the Justice Minister requested that those who reported his chamber appeared for Thilini Priyamali remanded in connection with the alleged Thico scam be summoned before Ethics and Privileges Committer and also dealt in terms of the Article 105 (3) of the Constitution which empowered the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka have the power to punish persons for Contempt of Court, including contempt of lower courts of original jurisdiction.

Responding to another question, Dr. Rajapakse said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe in writing informed Speaker Abeywardena that the Parliament was slow in implementing proposed changes. Dr. Rajapaksa pointed out that Parliament couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for its failure to establish Committee on Banking and Financial Services, Committee on Economic Stabilization, and Committee on Ways and Means.

Pointing out that there hadn’t been a previous instance of such a missive, dated Nov 3, the Justice Minister said that all political parties, represented in Parliament, should be concerned about the President finding fault with them for failing to take tangible measures to achieve, what he called, far reaching systematic changes.

Political sources said that the Opposition held up the entire process by adopting delaying tactics.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress