The order regarding the preliminary objections raised by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others challenging the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar’s jurisdiction to hear the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case was yesterday fixed for February 11.
The Trial-at-Bar Bench comprised High Court Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President), Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.
Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dileepa Peiris appearing for the Attorney General yesterday provided answers to the arguments presented by defence counsel who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear this case.
DSG Peiris submitted to court that Permanent High Court-at-Bar was established through the provisions of Judicature (Amendment) Act, No. 9 of 2018 and the matter was extensively debated at the Supreme Court.
‘The decision to establish this court cannot be reversed now. Even the defence has already accepted its legitimacy by invoking its jurisdiction to temporarily revoke their travel ban.
In terms of Section 12 (a) of the Judicature Act, the Attorney General does not has discretionary power to file indictments. The Chief Justice’s approval is required to file indictments. This court is empowered to hear some offences come under Penal Code, Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Public Property Act,’ Mr. Peiris added.
Meanwhile, DSG Peiris further stated that offences committed under Public Property Act cannot be underestimated.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for the first accused Gotabaya Rajapaksa said the High Court-at-Bar had no jurisdiction to hear this case since it was not a case filed under the provisions of Judicature Act. He said the Judicature Act was amended to establish courts connected to financial and economic offenses, but this matter would not come under that category.
Indictments were filed against the seven accused former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, members of the Director Board of the Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (LRDC), Chairman Prasad Harshan de Silva, Bhadra Udulawathi Kamaladasa, Sudammika Keminda Artigala, Saman Kumara Abraham Galappatti, Devage Mahinda Saliya and Srimathi Mallika Kumari Senadheera under seven counts for allegedly misappropriating LRDC funds of Rs.33.9 million.
The seven accused are currently out on bail.
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris with Senior State Counsel Wasantha Perera appeared for the Attorney General. President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva with Ali Sabry PC and Anil Silva PC appeared for the accused.