Dhammika Perera not to take oaths as MP

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Business tycoon Dhammika Perera has given an undertaking to the Supreme Court not to take oaths as a Member of Parliament, until the Supreme Court decides whether or not to grant leave to proceed with the petitions filed against his appointment as an MP.

Romesh de Silva PC yesterday (20) announced his client’s decision to Court when the four Fundamental Rights(FR) Petitions in this regard were taken up before the three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Yasantha Kodagoda and Arjuna Obeysekere. De Silva PC gave such an undertaking as hearing of the Petitions could not be concluded yesterday and was postponed to be taken up today (21).

M.A.Sumanthiran, Suren Fernando, Viran Corea and Geoffrey Alagaratnam appeared for the petitioners while Romesh de Silva PC appeared for Perera. Deputy Solicitor General,Kanishka De Silva appeared for the Attorney General.

The Petitioners including the Centre for Policy Alternatives (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 the 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.

The Petitioners also highlighted 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. It was also stated 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, they 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.

It was also stated 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 Basil Rajapaksa.Perera’s name 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 where he held shares and was given SLPP membership.

Meanwhile, Member of the Movement for a People’s Struggle Duminda Nagamuwa also filed a FR Petition before the Supreme Court yesterday (20) challenging the appointment of Perera.

BY Faadhila Thassim