ECONOMYNEXT – Parliament descended into a raucous shouting pit this afternoon after the Opposition wore House Black shawls and challenged the Speaker’s swearing-in of a convicted murderer as a Member of Parliament.
Premalal Jayasekara, who is under a death sentence for a murder committed in 2015 of a United National Party supporter, was sworn in as an MP in the Ninth Parliament after he won an interim order from the Court of Appeal to enter the House.
This is the first time in Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary history that a convicted killer has been appointed a Member.
Opposition MPs jeered and shouted “shame, shame” when Jayasekara was being sworn in.
The Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya opposed his swearing-in on several grounds, pointing to the Constitution which clearly bars any person who is serving a prison term longer than 3 years to be barred from either sitting in the House or voting.
MP Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka who was among the speakers pointed out to the House that it is the Speaker of Parliament who had the authority to decide whether a Member was qualified to sit in the House.
“I was sentenced to 30 months by a Kangaroo court and the then-Speaker (Chamal Rajapaksa) did not allow me to come to Parliament,” he said.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene then read out a portion of the Court of Appeal verdict in which it said that Jayasekara should be accorded all the rights and privileges of an MP.
However, SJB MP Harin Fernando said that the court has said the Speaker has to make the decision.
Before Jayasekara went before the Court of Appeal the Attorney General Dappula de Livera had officially given an opinion that the MP from Ratnapura had no right to be sworn in and no right to sit or vote in the House. (Colombo, September 8, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana