State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage will keep her Parliamentary seat after the Court of Appeal ruled in its majority decision that there is no merits in the writ petition which sought an order declaring that she is not qualified to be a Member of Parliament.
Social activist Oshala Herath filed this petition seeking an order in the nature of a Writ of Quo Warranto declaring that Diana Gamage is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and is thus not entitled to hold office as a MP.
Oshala Herath told Daily Mirror that he is expecting to file an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the Court of Appeal judgment.
With Justice K.K.A.V. Swarnadhipathi agreeing, Justice Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne in his judgment held that the merits of the case do not warrant issuance of a writ order. Justice Karunaratne further observed that the petitioner had filed this petition without complying with the Supreme Court Rules.
“The petitioner does not have an iota of evidence that would substantiate his claims against State Minister Diana Gamage. The petitioner has failed to satisfy the court that he has a statutory right against the State Minister. The petitioner is before this court with an attempt to bring disrepute to the State Minister and tarnishing her good name pursuant to petitioner’s personal agenda.
The application of the petitioner is an action of private nature and therefore not governed by any statute of the democratic socialist republic of Sri Lanka. As such the petitioner is not entitled to invoke the writ jurisdiction of this court against the State Minister. The merits of the case do not warrant issuance of a writ order. As such the petitioner’s application was dismissed with cost,” Justice Karunaratne held.
However, in a separate judgment, Justice M.A.R. Marikar held that the petitioner has proved a prima facie (at first view) case against the State Minister as decided in the case of Geetha Kumarasinghe. Justice Marikar said he cannot agree with the findings of the President of Court of Appeal Justice Karunaratne and thereby issued a Writ of Quo Warranto declaring that Diana Gamage is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and is thus not entitled to hold office as a MP.
“The voters’ expectation is that parliamentarians should be accountable, transparent and their integrity. The petitioner has produced sufficient materials that the State Minister has not obtained Sri Lankan citizenship and not renounced her British citizenship. Being a Parliamentarian, first respondent Diana Gamage should be transparent and should have shown her genuineness with regard to Sri Lankan citizenship.
The first respondent has an obligatory right towards the petitioner and the public that she is holding the public office maintained by the taxpayers’ money of the republic. Being a Member of Parliament, the first respondent should be an example in a transparent manner for the public. The duty of the first respondent is to prove her citizenship right rather than challenging the petition,” Justice Marikar observed.
In this case, the petitioner claimed that State Minister Diana Gamage is a British citizen and only a British citizen can hold a British Passport. The petitioner maintained that by virtue of becoming a citizen of another country, Parliamentarian Diana Gamage ceased to be a Sri Lankan citizen. The petitioner said Diana Gamage has not obtained dual citizenship or any other form of citizenship in Sri Lanka.
The petitioner further said Diana Gamage is disqualified from election as a MP or to sit and vote in Parliament under and in terms of Article 91 read with Article 89 and Article 90 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
Counsel Hafeel Farisz appeared for the petitioner. President’s Counsel Shavindra Fernando appeared for Diana Gamage. Farman Cassim PC appeared for SJB General Secretary.