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SC issues Interim Order suspending Cabinet decision

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House occupied by former President Sirisena:
Law & Order

The Supreme Court yesterday issued an interim order suspending the Cabinet decision to hand over the house at Mahagamasekera Mawatha, Colombo, where former President Maithripala Sirisena lived during his Presidency, even after his retirement. An interim order was also issued preventing the respondents from complying with the Cabinet decision.

The two interim orders will be effective after four weeks from yesterday.

These interim orders will remain in effect until final determination of the hearing of the Fundamental Rights Petition filed on October 15, 2019 challenging the Cabinet decision to hand over the house to Maithripala Sirisena.

The Bench directed that the request made by former President Maithripala Sirisena seeking to appoint a panel of five or more justices to consider the fundamental rights petition through a motion be referred to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya.

The petition was taken up before a panel of Supreme Court Justices comprising Preethi Padman Surasena, Yasantha Kodagoda and Mahinda Samayawardena.

The court made this order after considering the submissions made on behalf of the petitioners and the respondents.

The petition was filed by the Centre for Policy Alternatives and its Executive Director, Dr.Pakyasothy Saravanamuttu.The Attorney General, the Cabinet, the Secretary to the Cabinet and others are named as the respondents.

Attorney Suren Fernando, appearing for the petitioners, said that a Cabinet decision had been taken on October 15, 2019 to return the house on Mahagamasekera Mawatha, which former President Sirisena had used during his Presidency, to himself, even after his retirement.

He said that Maithripala Sirisena, who was the head of the Cabinet at the time, had made this decision to obtain privileges for himself, which was unconstitutional as well as the Presidential Privileges Act. He further added that it was an abuse of power. The house was renovated at a cost of Rs.180 million during that period and the house is a valuable asset in the country, he said.

He said it was illegal for him to seek Cabinet approval to acquire the house while Maithripala Sirisena was still the head of the cabinet.

He said that this Cabinet decision violates the fundamental rights of the people of this country.

President’s Counsel Faiz Mustapha, appearing for the respondent Maithripala Sirisena, stated that the Cabinet decision had been approved by Parliament and the funds had been allocated for it, adding that such a decision could not be challenged.

Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle appearing on behalf of the Attorney General said that the present Cabinet was not responsible as these Cabinet decisions had been taken by the previous Cabinet.

Court decided to fix on May 18 for hearing of the petition.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022 – 01:12

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