June 22, Colombo: The Supreme Court yesterday (June 21) ordered the dismissal of five fundamental rights petitions seeking the court to issue an injunction restraining leading businessman Dhammika Perera from being sworn in as a Member of Parliament.
The five petitions were filed challenging the appointment of Dhammika Perera to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Basil Rajapaksa, National List MP of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.
The petitions were filed by five people, including businessman Chandra Jayaratne, journalist Roel Raymond and the Center for Policy Alternatives and its executive director.
With a majority decision, a three-judge bench comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Yasantha Kodagoda and Arjuna Obeysekera, rejected granting leave to proceed with petitions against Dhammika Perera taking oaths as a Member of Parliament.
When the petitions were considered before the Supreme Court on Monday, businessman Dhammika Perera had promised the Supreme Court that he would not take oaths as a Member of Parliament or a Minister until a decision is taken on whether to pursue fundamental rights petitions. Accordingly, the petitions were called for the second day yesterday.
President's Counsel Romesh de Silva, appearing for Dhammika Perera, stated that the court did not have the power to grant the relief sought by the petitioners.
The President's Counsel emphasized that since his client has already been appointed as a Member of Parliament, only the Speaker has the power to decide whether he is eligible to sit in Parliament or to cast his vote.
He also pointed out that the judiciary is not in a position to intervene in this matter.
The President's Counsel also pointed out that the General Secretary of the party has the discretion to appoint a suitable person to fill a vacancy in the national list.
President's Counsel Gamini Marapana, appearing for the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Sagara Kariyawasam, stated that the General Secretary of the party has the discretion to appoint a suitable person to fill a vacancy in the National List.
After considering the facts, the court pronounced the verdict. With the court’s dismissal of the petitions the legal hurdles for Dhammika Perera to be sworn in were removed.
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, its General Secretary Attorney Sagara Kariyawasam, the Commissioner of Elections, the Secretary General of Parliament, the Secretary to the President and the Attorney General were named as respondents in these petitions.
The petitioners pointed out to the court that when a seat becomes vacant from the National List of Parliament, it can only be filled by a person whose name was included in the nominations submitted for the districts at the General Election or who is named in the National List.
The petition further states that the appointment of Dhammika Perera to a vacant seat in Parliament is contrary to Article 99 (a) of the Constitution as his name was not included in the nomination papers or the national list for the last General Election.