Fr. Jeewantha liable for Contempt of Court says AG
The Attorney General told the Supreme Court yesterday that Rev. Fr Jeewantha Peiris, who actively participated in the Galle Face Green protest, has violated Court orders and committed the offence of Contempt of Court including unlawful assembly and several offences which can be considered under the Penal Code.
Accordingly, State Counsel Shamindra Wickrama appearing on behalf of the Attorney General strongly opposed the consideration of the Fundamental Rights Petition filed seeking an order restraining the Armed Forces or the police from arresting him.
The petition was taken up before the Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices L.T.B Dehideniya, S. Thurairaja and Yasantha Kodagoda.
The State Counsel who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General stated that the Fort Magistrate’s Court had given an order to the petitioner and a group of people not to participate in the protest held at York Street.
The State Counsel added that Fr.Jeewantha Peiris was informed about the order by telephone, but in violation of the Order, the petitioner not only participated in the protest by becoming a member of an unlawful assembly, but also led it, obstructed, assaulted and acted illegally against government officials.
President’s Counsel Rienzie Arsakularathne appearing for the petitioner stated that his client was not aware of such a court order or a court order to appear before court.
He also highlighted that his client did not receive any document mentioning a Court Order that was summoned before Court.
The State Counsel stated that he informed the petitioner’s telephone number on May 27 about the Court Order.
Therefore, he pointed out that the petitioner has committed the offence of Contempt of Court under 55 (2) of the Judicial Organization Act by not complying with it. Also, he has committed a number of offences including being a member of an unlawful assembly, obstructing public officials, injuring public officials, and using unlawful force under Sections 140, 142, 146, 149, 183, 323 of the Penal Code.
The State Counsel further said that some protesters who participated in the protests with the petitioner surrendered to the court and some others were arrested and pointed out that some of them have been released on bail.
The State Counsel also stated when trying to arrest the petitioner who did not surrender to court in accordance with the court order, his whereabouts could not be revealed. In spite of that, filing a petition like this without following proper legal procedures and seeking the help of the court should not happen, he added. Therefore, the State Counsel said that he would strongly object to this petition. Considering the submissions made by all parties, the petition was fixed for September 1 by the Supreme Court and both parties were allowed to file annexes with related to the petition.
Rev. Fr. Jeewantha Peiris has filed a fundamental rights (FR) petition in the Supreme Court, seeking an order to prevent his arrest over the Galle Face protest incidents.
The petition says that Rev. Father Jeewantha Peris joined the “GotaGoGama” protest from about April 09 and thereafter he became an active participant in the protest to bring justice to the people who were made to suffer by the Government led by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Rev. Fr. Jeewantha Peris states that the respondents of the petition are trying to arrest him without a justifiable reason.