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Geetha Kumarasinghe Unseated by Appeal Court Through Quo Warranto Writ as Galle District MP on Dual Citizenship Issue : Actress Turned Politico to go to Supreme Court

Geetha Kumarasinghe

Popular actress and Galle district MP Geetha Kumarasinghe said yesterday that she would file a case in the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s ruling which deprived her from her seat in Parliament.

The Court of Appeal yesterday (May 3 2017) ruled that Galle District UPFA Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was not entitled to hold the post of a Member of Parliament as she had contested the election while being a dual citizen.

She said she hoped to continue as an MP until a decision was given by the Supreme Court following her petition.

“I’m not criticising the Court ruling but I regret it. I hope justice will prevail one day. I will seek further judicial assistance in this regard,” she added.

The Court of Appeal on May 3rd 2017 issued a Writ of Quo Warran to disqualify UPFA Member of Parliament from holding office as an MP as she had held a dual citizenship at the time of seeking nomination to enter Parliament.

Geetha Kumarasinghe

Justice Preethi Padman Surasena with Justice Vijith Malalgoda (President/CA ) agreeing also directed the State to recover the cost from her as the debt to the State for the each day she sat in the Parliament knowing that she was a dual citizen and being disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.

The Attorney General had earlier informed the Court of Appeal that MP Geetha Kumarasinghe was still a citizen of Switzerland and according to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a person who has dual citizenship cannot be an MP.

Deputy Solicitor General Janak De Silva had also informed Court that, according to Clause 91(1) of the Constitution, she was not entitled to Parliamentary privileges and could not be a Member of Parliament.

The Appeal Court held that Galle District UPFA MP Kumarasinghe could no longer function as a Member of Parliament as she had contested the general election while bearing dual citizenship.

The former actress-turned politician Kumarasinghe holds dual citizenship in Sri Lanka and Switzerland.

Under the Constitution of Sri Lanka, no person can be elected to Parliament if they hold dual citizenship.

Five voters of the Galle District have filed a petition in the Court of Appeal requesting Court to declare Kumarasinghe ineligible to remain as a Parliamentarian while holding a dual citizenship.

Court held that under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a dual citizen is not eligible to contest for Parliamentary membership and therefore Kumarasinghe no longer can function as a Parliamentarian.

Petitioners in their Writ application challenged her appointment and/or election as the Member of Parliament on her dual citizenship.

The Petitioners are W.W.E. Buweneka, J.K. Amarawardhana, A.C. Gunasekera, J.K. Wijesinghe and Prasanna Deepthilal. They cited Geetha Sammanmala Kumarasinghe, Controller of Immigration and Emigration, UPFA Secretary Prof. Vishwa Warnapala and the Secretary General of Parliament as Respondents.

The petitioners accused the appointment/election of Kumarasinghe to office of Member of Parliament contending that she is not de jure (legally) entitled to such appointment and/or election and holding the said office without authority.

Petitioners stated that Kumarasinghe is a holder of dual citizenship namely Sri Lanka and Switzerland and she had contested the 2015 Parliamentary election without divulging her dual citizenship at the time of submitting her nomination.

They claimed she by virtue of the Constitution was not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament and charged that she was thus a usurper of the authority of a Member of Parliament.

She had been declared as a Member of Parliament representing the UPFA from Galle District, they stated.

They sought the Court to issue a prerogative Writ Order requiring her to show by what authority she claims to hold office as a Member of Parliament and an another Order declaring that she is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold office as Member of Parliament.

J.C. Weliamuna appeared for the Petitioners. Manohara de Silva PC appeared for Kumarasinghe. Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva appeared for Controller of Immigration and Emigration, the Secretary General of Parliament and the Attorney General.

In an ealier interview given to Ashanthi Warunasuriya ,published in “The Sunday Leader” of March 26th 2017, Geetha Kumarasinghe stated that she was being victimised due to political reasons.

Excerpts of that interview are given below –

Q: Who are attacking you like this?

A: There is a group of politicians who have been rejected by the people. But they have been able to creep back into the government and even secure ministerial positions. This is not democracy. After that these defeated politicians have filed cases against the victors. But in public they are shouting about increasing female representation in the parliament up to 25%. Instead of increasing, what they are doing at present is decreasing that number even further. The people can judge the fairness of these matters. As a woman, my determination was my main strength. It was far more than physical strength. Even after being defeated for six years, I worked for the betterment of the people. That is why the people elected me to parliament. I have made my contribution to the society. At present, the tradition of our politics is to inherit political power from husband to wife and children. May be there are other ways as well. But I did not come from any such way. I was born and raised in a village. I went to a village school. After coming into cinema, I did my best to make it greater. I have taken the name of the country even into international cinema.

Q: Why are you being accused like this?

A: I gave up a luxurious life, a citizenship of a foreign country and a vast wealth in the name of politics. It was the reason for the breakup of my marriage. It was an emotionally difficult incident for me. All this happened to me because of politics. If I had just kept quiet without demanding anything, no such thing would have happened to me. But I like to face challenges than accepting ministerial posts.

Q: Does this mean that they are you are being subjected to political revenge?

A: Definitely. There are TNA members who have dual citizenship. There are other MPs and ministers who have dual citizenship.

Q: Was there any invitation for you from the government to join them?

A: Yes.

Q: Don’t you think that it would have been better if you had accepted that invitation?

A: I am not afraid of challenges. I always face them. There is a solution to every problem. So I did not back away from this problem. I am the only woman who came to parliament from the Southern province. If these people could threaten someone like me, then imagine what they can do to an ordinary woman. Sri Lanka is the worst country for a woman to do politics in Asia.

Q: Are you planning to keep quiet in the face of these allegations?

A: No. No one can silence me. The art world and the people of the country are with me.

(Complied from Newspaper reports and articles)