by Shamindra Ferdinando
The Joint Opposition yesterday accused Parliament of depriving actress turned UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe of her Galle District parliamentary seat at the behest of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.
The JO flayed the government and the parliament for acting hurriedly to oust an elected MP loyal to former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa. The JO said that Kumarasinghe had earned the wrath of the SLFP for steadfastly being a Rajapaksa supporter.
Former External Affairs Minister and top JO spokesman Prof. G. L. Peiris said the Secretary General of Parliament had informed the National Election Commission (NEC) on Tuesday (May 9) of the Galle District vacancy in Parliament in the wake of the Court of Appeal ruling pertaining to her eligibility to be an MP due to her being a dual citizen.
Addressing the media at Punchi Borella, the former law professor alleged that Kumarasinghe had been denied the opportunity to move the Supreme Court within 42 days against the Court of Appeal ruling given on May 3.
Prof. Peiris emphasized that the MP had been denied the constitutional right to move Sri Lanka’s highest court against a lower court.
The former minister pointed out that the parliament had written to Chairman, NEC, Mahinda Deshapriya in spite of Mrs. Kumarasinghe personally informing Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in writing on May 4 of her decision to appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling. Mrs. Kumarasinghe has been accompanied by JO members, Dallas Alahapperuma, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Udaya Gammanpila.
Responding to a query by The Island, Prof. Peiris urged the NEC not to act hastily or succumb to yahapalana pressure. Prof. Peiris urged the three member NEC comprising former Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, Dr. Nalin Abeysekera and Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole to examine Mrs. Kumarasinghe’s case before acting on Secretary General’s letter.
Prof. Peiris emphasized that the Speaker having accepted Mrs. Kumarasinghe’s letter, issued a receipt therefore couldn’t deny knowledge of the MP’s resolve to move the Supreme Court.
Alleging that the parliament had perpetrated injustice and interfered with a member’s right to legal redress, Prof. Peiris maintained that the project was meant to deprive the JO of a Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalist.
Prof. Peiris said that there had never been such a blatant attempt to oust a member of parliament on a Court ruling before the Supreme Court could be moved.
Prof. Peiris, who is also the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Podujana Pakshaya said that the JO couldn’t be suppressed by yahapalana strategies.
Asked by The Island whether the JO could vouch for Mrs Kumarasinghe giving up the Swiss citizenship at the time of nominations for August 2015 parliamentary polls in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution adopted in April 2015, Prof. Peiris said there hadn’t been any objections to her contesting the Galle District.
An authoritative official on behalf of the Parliament told The Island that the Secretary General had written to the NEC following consultations with the Attorney General. The official alleged that the Counsel for Mrs. Kumarasinghe could have acted swiftly to avoid an unwarranted situation. The official stressed that the JO couldn’t find fault with the parliament for their failure to challenge the Court of Appeal ruling quickly. The official said that the Secretary General had informed the NEC of the Galle District vacancy after receiving specific instructions from the AG.
Mrs Kumarasinghe’s Counsel Manohara de Silva told The Island that the Court of Appeal ruling could be challenged within 42 days.
The JO would vigorously campaign against yahapalana government bid to undermine the genuine Opposition, Prof. Peiris said, adding that the SLFP couldn’t stomach their group is bigger than the SLFP team in the ruling coalition. Of the 95 members elected on the UPFA ticket and appointed on the UFFA National List, 52 are with the former President.