Dhammika’s appointment to SLPP National List challenged

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director filed a Fundamental Rights application on 15 June, challenging the appointment of business tycoon Dhammika Perera to the SLPP National List Parliamentary seat, made vacant by the resignation of former MP Basil Rajapaksa.

CPA noted that a person is only entitled to be nominated to fill such vacancy if the name was included in the district nomination papers or national list submitted by the relevant political party. The name of Dhammika Perera was not on the list submitted by SLPP to the Election Commission under Article 99A of the Constitution or in any nomination paper submitted in respect of any electoral district by the SLPP for the General Election held in 2020, CPA noted.

The Petitioners also highlighted the appearance of real bias and conflict of interest caused by the appointment of Perera as an MP and possibly a Cabinet Minister, due to his ownership in a multitude of different business ventures in a variety of sectors ranging from plantation, power generation, licensed commercial banks, finance companies and consumer goods.

CPA noted that Article 91(1)(e) of the Constitution disqualifies a person with any such interest in any such contract made by or on behalf of the State or a public corporation from being a MP.

Accordingly, CPA observed that the appointment of Perera is illegal, arbitrary, irrational, and grossly unreasonable, contrary to law and will if unchecked cause grave and irremediable harm and prejudice to the People of Sri Lanka and the Rule of Law itself.

CPA further maintains that this appointment constitutes an infringement and continuous infringement of the fundamental rights of the People of Sri Lanka guaranteed under Articles 10 (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 12(1) (Right to equal protection of the law), and 14(1)(a) (Freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution.

The Election Commission on 10 June, gazetted Perera’s name as an SLPP National List MP, to fill the Parliamentary Seat made vacant by the resignation of Rajapaksa.The name of Perera was submitted to the Election Commission earlier on 10 June by the SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam. Perera also resigned from the director boards of several companies in which he held shares and was also given SLPP membership. (FT)