Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero was not present at the Court of Appeal yesterday (12), being represented instead by a senior criminal lawyer who told the Court that his client had stayed away as he faced a threat to his life.
The Contempt of Court matter against him came up before a bench comprising justices L.T.B. Dehideniya and S. Devika De L. Tennakoon.
President’s Counsel Tirantha Walalaliyadde PC, with Shashika Mithuna Arachchi, appeared for Gnanasara Thero and informed Court06 that there were instances where people had been shot within the Court premises and his client was not safe.
In response Justice Dehideniya demanded his presence in Court.
Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya said that the respondent was also previously absent from Court but a medical certificate was presented stating that he was suffering from hypertension. He said that now a different version of events was being put forward. He pleaded with Court to issue a warrant for the Thero’s arrest.
Presiding Justice Dehideniya stated that he would not issue a warrant but was fixing another date for the inquiry when the accused Thero must be present in Court. The Court fixed the inquiry for 18, 19 and 20 July.
Senior Counsel Manohara de Silva on 31 May appeared for Gnanasara Thero and informed Court that his client was hospitalised before submitting a relevant medical certificate.
The bench comprising justices L.T.B. Dehideniya and K.K. Wickramasinghe on that date had fixed the contempt matter against Gnanasara Thero for 12 June.
The Court on 24 May ordered that Gnanasara Thero be produced in Court on the next date, 31 May, with a medical certificate as he was not present in Court on that day.
When the contempt matter against Gnanasara Thero came up on 24 May before a bench comprising justices Rohini Walgama (Court of Appeal President) and S. Thurairaja, the court directed Junior Counsel Anusha Perusinghe, who appeared for Gnanasara Thero, to produce him on the next date, 31 May, with a medical certificate.
The Court had nominated a new bench comprising justices L.T.B. Dehidenilya and P. Padman Surasena for the inquiry and had fixed the matter for 31 May to be mentioned to fix a date for an inquiry.
The Court on 28 February overruled the preliminary objection by the Respondent Gnanasara Thero with the contempt matter against him and the charge sheet read in Court.
The Court on 27 September directed the Attorney General to consider amending the summons if necessary against Gnanasara Thero with the particulars of his alleged offensive conduct with regard to his behaviour at the Homagama Magistrates’ Court.
Homagama Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake filed a Contempt of Court action in the Court of Appeal against Gnanasara Thero seeking the Appeal Court’s constitutional jurisdiction against the Thero’s alleged offensive behaviour at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court amounting to Contempt of Court on 25 January last year.
On 25 January, Gnanasara Thero began to address Court after a hearing pertaining to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda was over. Later, Gnanasara Thera was arrested by Police on contempt of court charges for obstructing Court proceedings and intimidating a public servant.
Through this contempt of court action, the Homagama Magistrate has sought the Appeal Court’s jurisdiction to consider whether the alleged offensive behaviour of Gnanasara Thera within the Court premises amounted to Contempt of Court.
He further petitioned Court to take necessary legal action against Gnanasara Thero if the charges levelled against him amounted to Contempt of Court.
Manohara de Silva PC with Anusha Perusinghe had been appearing for the accused Thero. Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appeared for the Attorney General as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court or the one who assists the court by furnishing information or advice regarding questions of law or fact).