ECONOMYNEXT – The Attorney-General Dappula de Livera has informed the Secretary-General of Parliament that Ranjan Ramanayake is not eligible to occupy his Parliamentary seat because of his conviction for contempt of court, a matter the Opposition will contest.
Media reports quoted the AG’s spokesman as saying that the ruling has been conveyed to Parliament and that another Samagi Jana Balavegaya candidate, the next in the preferential list from the Gampaha District should be nominated to the seat.
Earlier yesterday the General-Secretary of the SJB Ranjith Madduma Bandara and M A Sumanthiran of the Tamil National Alliance met Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene and informed him that Ramanayake is entitled to his Parliamentary seat and that the decision lies with Parliament.
The SJB has vowed to fight for Ramanayake to retain his seat with Lawyer Suren Fernando saying that the Constitution does not prescribe a prison term for contempt of court and therefore the MP cannot be disqualified.
SJB MP Dr Harsha de Silva said Article 89 (d) of the constitution, states, “if he is serving or has during the period of seven years immediately preceding completed serving of a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term not less than six months imposed after conviction by any court for an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than two years.”
In the matter of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna MP Premalal Jayasekara who has been sentenced to death for murder, the courts took the position that it was a matter for Parliament to decide whether he could continue to be an MP.
The Parliament has allowed Jayasekara to sit in Parliament and legislate and becomes the first person on death row to be allowed to vote on the laws of the land. The Speaker has justified the decision on the grounds that Jayasekara, also known as Choka Malli, has appealed his sentence.
Ramanayake was sentenced by the Supreme Court and has no recourse to appeal his sentence.
In case Ramanayake is disqualified Ajith Mannapperuma, who is next on the SJB list will become MP. (Colombo January 19, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana