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SC decides not to proceed with FR petitions against President

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The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the proceedings cannot be continued against the current President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is named as a respondent in the Fundamental Rights petitions filed against the failure to prevent the Easter Sunday terror attacks that took place on April 21, 2019 despite receiving intelligence information.

This was announced by a seven-member Supreme Court Bench after considering a request made by his Counsel that proceedings cannot be continued against the current president, who was the prime minister at the time of the terrorist attack.

The petitions were taken up before a Supreme Court seven-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, L.T.B. Dehideniya, Murdu Fernando, S. Thurairajah, A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Shiran Gunaratne.Delivering the order, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya observed that under Article 35(1) of the Constitution, the current President Ranil Wickremesinghe is entitled to immunity (Blanket immunity).

The Supreme Court held that according to the Article 35(1) and its proviso of the Constitution, its states that even though petitions regarding violations of Fundamental Rights caused by the Executive and administrative actions can be maintained, the activities of the incumbent as the President cannot be challenged in this way, and the proceedings initiate against him before cannot be continued.

Accordingly, the Chief Justice stated that even though President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was the Prime Minister at the time of the Easter attack, was named as a respondent in these petitions, since he currently holds the office of President, the bench decided that these petitions cannot be continued against him. The petition was fixed for further hearing on September 29.

The petitions were filed by Nandana Sirimanna, a father who lost his two children in the bombing, businessman Janath Vidanage, three Catholic priests including Sarath Iddamalgoda and Moditha Ekanayake, a lawyer who was a victim in the Shangri-La bombing and others.

Former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, former President Maithripala Sirisena, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the then Cabinet and the Attorney General have been cited as the respondents in the petitions.

The petitions allege that the respondents did not act to prevent the Easter Sunday terror attacks despite the intelligence received that a terrorist attack by a group of Muslim extremists was imminent.The petitions therefore seek an order to take legal action against them for their negligence. Justices Priyantha Jayawardena and Gamini Amarasekera had earlier stated that they would not attend the hearing of the petition due to personal reasons.

Accordingly, the aforesaid seven member bench was appointed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya.President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena with Attorney-at-Law Lakmini Warusavithana appeared for petitioner Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL). Saliya Peiris PC and Manohara De Silva PC appeared for certain other Petitioners.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Priyantha Nawana with ASG Nerin Pulle and Deputy Solicitor General Avanthi Perera appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.Faizer Mustapha PC with Attorney-at-Law Shaheeda Bari appeared for former President Mathripala Sirisena. Suren Fernando PC appeared for President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Shammil Perera PC with Attorneys Varuna Senadhira and Duthika Perera appeared for the Archbishop of Colombo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 – 01:19











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