Minister requests Speaker: Do not allow Rishad to attend Parliament until investigations completed

Sarath Weerasekara

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara yesterday (05) requested the Speaker not to allow MP Rishad Bathiudeen, who is detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to attend Parliament until the investigations relating to his arrest are completed.

Weerasekara stated that any MP who would be detained under the PTA should not be allowed to attend Parliament until the relevant investigations are over.

Any statement made by MP Bathiudeen following his attendance in Parliament may hinder the investigations. It may even allow other persons who should be investigated later on, to evade arrest or flee the country.

Weerasekara made this statement as the Opposition yesterday (05) raised concerns on not allowing MP Rishad Bathiudeen to attend Parliament.

The Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa requested the Speaker to allow MP Bathiudeen to attend Parliament.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Lakshman Kiriella pointed out to the House that there is no clear reason presented as to why MP Bathiudeen was not present in parliament yesterday (05) and the day before (04).

“Within the last 24 hours, I heard three rumoured reasons as to why MP Bathiudeen was not brought to Parliament. One said MP Bathiudeen had close contacts with a COVID-19 patient. According to the family of MP Bathiudeen, the signature of the Speaker allowing the MP to attend Parliament was not available. Now these are three stories and we do not know which is which. We request the Speaker to ensure the privileges of Parliamentarians.” MP Kiriella said.

TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran pointed out that such a move, as suggested by Minister Weerasekara, has never happened in the history of Parliament. Sumanthiran pointed out that it would be very easy to hunt down political opponents if this proposal is accepted, as any MP could be taken into custody under the PTA and investigations carried out for three months which will automatically cancel their seat in Parliament. He also observed that there could possibly be no legal restrictions in facilitating MP Bathiudeen from attending Parliament sessions.

(Source: Daily News – By Camelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawaarachchi)