SC rejects petitions against Dhammika

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The Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions filed 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, were dismissed by the Supreme Court yesterday (21).

The refusal to grant leave to proceed was in accordance with the decision of the majority of the Supreme Court bench comprising Priyantha Jayawardena, Yasantha Kodagoda and Arjuna Obeysekere.

The decision was made in reliance to the order given in regard to the FR Petition filed challenging the appointment of MP Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka in 2016.

Perera gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court on Monday (20), not to take oaths as an MP, until the Supreme Court decides whether or not to grant leave to proceed with the petitions filed against his appointment as an MP.

Parliament sources said, Perera will be sworn in before Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena today (22) as a National List MP.

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 the 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.

Romesh de Silva PC with Niran Anketell and Sahila Wijewardene appeared for Perera.

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.

BY Faadhila Thassim