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Establishment of FCID : RW admits gazette was illegal

Former Prime Minister (PM) Ranil Wickremesinghe gave a nonchalant response when it was put to him that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) did not have the power to establish the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) under the Yahapalana Government.

He thus considered that the FCID was in fact illegal, when he appeared before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing alleged incidents of political victimisation.

He appeared at the FCID with regard to a complaint filed by former Department of Divineguma Additional Director General and present Department of Samurdhi Director General Bandula Thilaksiri.

During the proceedings, the cabinet paper pertaining to the “Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat” was brought to the attention of the former PM by the legal counsel representing the complainant.

The legal counsel said that the cabinet paper had given guidance on setting up a police unit, to the ministerial secretary. He however made evident that the gazette notification pertaining to the establishment of the FCID had not been issued by the ministerial secretary, but rather the IGP.

In response, the former Premier said that the relevant power lies with the IGP.

Afterwards, the legal counsel of the complainant quoted Section 55 of the Police Ordinance and emphasised that the IGP does not have power to establish a separate unit.

To that Wickremesinghe replied: “They say the IGP can establish police divisions. But our cabinet paper does not mention the establishment of divisions, and only mentions the establishment of a secretariat pertaining to corruption.”

The Chairman of the Commission then made evident that the IGP had established a unit exercising a power he does not have.

Former PM Wickremesinghe responded: “I don’t know about that. I remember they reported that the secretary doesn’t have the power to do it and only the IGP had the power to do it.”

The legal counsel of the complainant then made evident that though the gazette says that the FCID was established under Section 55 of the Police Ordinance, that particular section of the Ordinance does not accord such a power.

The response of the witness was: “If there isn’t power, there isn’t.”