Geetha’s election challenged

Geetha Kumarasinghe

Several residents in Galle and suburbs have challenged the election of Geetha Kumarasinghe as a member of parliament by way of a petition filed in the Court of Appeal.

Geetha Samanmali Kumarasinghe was elected as a Member of Parliament at the Parliamentary General election held on August 17.

Petitioners N.W.E. Buweneka of Keembiela, Beddegama, Galle. J.K. Amarawardhana Bovitiyamulla, Yatalamatta A. C. Gunasekara, “Lakshmi”, Unawatuna, Galle, J. K. Wijesinghe, Main Street, Ambalangoda and Prasanna Deepthi Lal Viskam Road, Galle, have filed an application in the Court of Appeal seeking a writ of quo warranto against the sitting Parliamentarian in terms of article 140 of the constitution.

The petitioners in their application to the Court had cited M.N. Ranasinghe, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration, Prof. Vishwa Warnapala, Secretary United People’s Freedom Alliance,. And Dhammika Dasanayake, Secretary General of Parliament, as respondents in the matter in addition to sitting Parliamentarian Geetha Samanmalie Kumarasinghe.

The petitioners in their application had stated that they impugn, inter alia, the appointment/election to office of Member of Parliament by the 1st Respondent (Geetha Kumarasinghe) who is not entitled to such appointment and her holding the said office without authority.

The Petitioners also state that; The 1st Respondent above named, is a holder of a dual citizenship, namely of Sri Lanka and Switzerland, who had contested the Parliamentary Elections held on 17-08-2015 and had not divulged her dual citizenship at the time of submission of nominations. The said Respondent, by virtue of the Constitution, and in particular Article 91(1)(d)(xiii) thereof, is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament, and/or to sit and vote in Parliament and thus a usurper authority of a Member of Parliament and not qualified to hold the position of a Member of Parliament.

The Petitioners state that the Parliamentary Elections were in fact, held on 17-08-2015, for which any one or more of the Petitioners exercised their franchise, in the Galle District.

The Petitioners state that the 1st Respondent had been declared elected as a Member of Parliament representing the UPFA from the Galle District. In fact, by Gazette Extraordinary dated 19-08-2015, the list of persons purportedly elected as Members of Parliament was published, which included the name of the 1st Respondent (Geetha Kumarasinghe).

The Petitioners state that on or around 01-09-2015, when the Parliament was convened, the 1st Respondent took oaths as a Member of Parliament before the Speaker, though being disqualified from being elected as a Member of Parliament and/or not being qualified to sit and vote in Parliament.

They also state that the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was certified on 15-05-2015, approximately two months prior to nominations.

The Petitioners are aware that by virtue of section 20 of the said Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Article 91 of the Constitution was amended, expanding certain provision relating to ‘disqualification for election as a Member of Parliament’.

The said provision states that no person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament – if he/she is a citizen of Sri Lanka who is also a citizen of any other country.

The Petitioners state that due to public interviews of the 1st Respondent, published in the media, they were of the reasonable apprehension that the said Respondent was a holder of a dual citizenship, and that the said Respondent was a citizen of Switzerland. The relevant extract of an interview published in the Sunday Observer on 16-03-2014.is as follows:

Q: You are campaigning to become the Chief Minister in the Southern Province. Do you think that you have the capacity to become Chief Minister?

A: I would like to ask what are the things I am lacking to become the Chief Minister. What are the qualifications I am lacking, compared to those who have become Chief Ministers in the Provincial Council. I am a person who has seen the world.

I am capable of addressing any international forum and get assistance to improve our health sector. I can do many more things than those who have served as Chief Ministers. I have seen what is happening in developed countries such as Switzerland because I am a citizen of Switzerland.

Therefore, the Petitioners conducted a diligent survey at inter alia, the Department of Immigration and Emigration and are now aware that the 1st Respondent is in fact, a dual citizen. The Petitioners are further aware, that the said Respondent is citizen of Switzerland.

The Petitioners state that by letter of their Attorney-at-Law dated 10-09-2015, demanded that the 1st Respondent cease to hold office as a Member of Parliament, which letter was to no avail. In the totality of the aforesaid circumstances, the Petitioners are advised to state that the 1st Respondent is de jure not entitled to hold the elected office as a Member of Parliament at such election.

The 1st Respondent’s purported appointment and/or election as a Member of Parliament in null and void, and of no force of avail in law as inter alia, due to the presence of the Constitutional disqualification inasmuch as such a candidate to the post of Member of Parliament cannot be “a citizen

of Sri Lanka who is also a citizen of any other country” vide Article 91(1)(d)(xiii).

The Petitioners specifically state that the 1st Respondent has now usurped and/or unlawfully exercised powers of a Member of Parliament, despite her not being qualified to hold such position and these Petitioners are entitled to a mandate in the nature of a Writ of Quo Warranto requiring the 1st Respondent to show by what authority she claims to hold office as a Member of Parliament:

The Petitioners state that they are entitled to a declaration from Court declaring that the 1st Respondent is not entitled to hold office as a Member of Parliament.

(Daily News)

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