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PCoI summons former COPE Chairman; PCoI cannot summon says Speaker

Speaker of Parliament, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena today (27) said a Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) cannot summon members of parliamentary investigative committees like the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) to testify about evidence/material gathered by the respective parliamentary committee during one of its inquiries.

The Speaker made this observation in response to a question posed by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader, MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Dissanayake informed the House today that former COPE Chairman and then MP Sunil Handunnetti has been summoned by a PCoI to give evidence on information gathered/received on the Batticaloa Campus by the COPE committee during his tenure as its head.

Dissanayake pointed out that according to the laws that govern parliament, members of parliamentary investigative committees cannot be summoned by a PCoI to testify about information received by the respective parliamentary body.

The Speaker in response said that he would look into the matter.

However, when Dissanayake pointed out that Handunnetti has already written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament about the matter, Abeywardena acknowledged receipt of the letter and said he would respond accordingly.

“Were you informed by the PCoI that the former COPE Chairman is being summoned to give evidence over information gathered by the parliamentary committee?” Dissanayake questioned.

“No,” the Speaker responded.

Dissanayake further asked whether the PCoI could summon the former head of COPE without informing the Speaker and ask the COPE Chief to reveal information gathered by the Committee that is governed by parliament law.

“No,” the Speaker responded.