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Victimisation PCoI report in contempt of Court?

  • Lawyers group requests CJ to determine

 

A group of Attorneys-at-Law (AALs) have written to Chief Justice (CJ) Jayantha Jayasuriya PC, requesting to determine whether the final recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Political Victimisation constitutes an act of being in contempt of the Supreme Court (SC), and to take necessary action if deemed so.

The letter addressed to the CJ yesterday (01) also requested the CJ to investigate as to whether the PCoI recommendations have caused damage to the court system and the rights of citizens.

The request stated that the PCoI on political vengeance established under the Extraordinary Gazette Number 2157/44 issued on 09 January 2020 does not provide the Commission any power to make recommendations on courts or court decisions, and that the Commission’s recommendations have therefore caused contempt of court, miscarriage of justice, and disgraced the autonomy of the SC, its good name, and the faith placed in it by the public.

The request has been filed by AALs Achala Seneviratne, Senaka Perera, Thambiah Jeyaratnarajah, and Namal Rajapaksha.

The Attorneys further noted that the Commission appointed by the President has been given the power to inquire into alleged cases of political victimisation that had taken place between 08 January 2015 and 19 November 2019, and to provide a final report.

However, the Attorneys state that the recommendations of the report submitted to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa mention that Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna politicians and supporters, and former MP Duminda Silva, have faced political injustice; that the Attorney General’s Department and the SC are connected to such; and that therefore, the SC has been recommended to reconsider the decision on Silva. This, the Attorneys note, is in contempt of Court, and has resulted in the miscarriage of the fundamentals of natural justice.

The request elaborates that if a respondent is dissatisfied by such a Court decision, they could make a personal request (as a request to reconsider a SC decision on a criminal case cannot be made by a third party) that the decision be reconsidered by a larger panel/bench of Judges, and that there is a specific timeframe within which such a request can be filed.

Meanwhile, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna-led Jathika Jana Balawegaya Leader and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who has also been implicated in the said report as being among the alleged “political victimisers”, said last week that they will be taking legal action against the PCoI report this week. However, the date for this has not been finalised yet.

The Gazette mandates the Commission to inquire into and obtain information on alleged political victimisation; specifically whether there has been any malpractice or irregularity, or non-compliance with or disregard of the proper prudence, norms, guidelines, procedures, and best practices applicable in relation to the administration of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), and the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Police; whether they had been influenced or obstructed or prevented in any manner, resulting in loss, damage, injury or detriment, either direct or imputed, to any person or persons (including public officers, employees of public corporations, members of the armed forces and Police service); whether any officer entrusted with the conduct of investigations by them have acted under undue influence by third parties, including by the Anti-Corruption Unit, and whether any person had committed any act of political victimisation, misuse or abuse of power, corruption, or any fraudulent act in relation to the functions of the said Anti Corruption Unit, the CIABOC, the FCID and the SIU or in relation to the administration of any law or the administration of justice. 

The Commission comprised retired SC Judge, Justice (J.) Upali Abeyrathne (Chairman of the Commission), retired Court of Appeal Judge, Daya Chandrasiri Jayathilaka J., and retired Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando.