By Chitra Weerarathne
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva told the Supreme Court yesterday that Geetha Kumarasinghe had been elected to Parliament on August 17, 2015 and her nominations accepted without protests. There had been no election petition against her. She took the oaths as a Member of Parliament, before the Speaker, sat and voted in Parliament.
Counsel was supporting the application of appeal by Kumarasinghe against a Court of Appeal judgment, which disqualified her on the grounds that she was a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Switzerland.
Some voters of Galle petitioned Court of Appeal against her election.
An election could be set aside by an election petition and not by a writ of quo warranto in the Court of Appeal, Kumarasinghe’s counsel argued.
There couldn’t be a writ of quo warranto against a Member of Parliament, according to the English Law, practised in Sri Lanka. Hence, Kumarasinghe could not be dismissed from Parliament by a writ of quo warranto of the Court of Appeal, he said.
Counsel de Silva submitted that privileges of Parliament could only be managed by the Parliament only. It was explained in Article 67 of the Constitution. Article 140 on writs, was subject to Article 67. Writs on a Member of Parliament were eliminated by Article 67 on Parliamentary Privileges, read with Article 4(2) on sovereignty of the people, he said.
Counsel de Silva said there was no Swiss law operative before the Sri Lankan Courts. Hence the courts could not unseat a privileged Member of Parliament on the presumption that she was a citizen of Switzerland. Kumarasinghe had also applied on June 25, 2015 to withdraw her Swiss citizenship. Then she became a citizen of Sri Lanka. Her country of origin was Sri Lanka. She had married a Swiss National. Later she attempted to give up the Swiss citizenship, the court was told.
Court to Counsel: You have failed to specify the date she lost the Swiss citizenship.
Counsel said there was neither the Swiss law nor an expert to interpret that before this court.
Counsel de Silva added that the petitioners should have proved that on August 17, 2015.
J. C. Weliamuna, PC appeared for the voters.
The bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasarth Dep, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice Anil Gooneratne and Justice Nalin Perera.