UNP wants Speaker to reconsider decision on convicted MP

Akila Viraj Kariyawasam

The United National Party (UNP) yesterday called on the Speaker to reconsider his decision to allow Premalal Jayasekara, who was convicted of murder, to take oaths as a Member of Parliament.

In a statement, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam stated that the verdict in the case Premalal Jayasekara vs. the Prisons Commissioner did not give legal basis for Jayasekara to come to Parliament. ”If the Speaker allows this precedent to take effect, even terrorists could enter the Parliament,” Kariyawasam said.

“Premalal Jayasekara vs. the Commissioner General of Prisons, was the case against the Commissioner of Prison to permit Jayasekara to attend Parliament. In this case, Justice Nawaz stated ‘This Court is not going to look into the validity or invalidity of his election or any other disqualification, as what is sought to be challenged on grounds known to administrative law is the letter issued by the Commissioner of Prisons.’ He further stated that ‘So the question of sitting and voting does not arise before us and as the passage clearly indicates, it is the province of the Speaker to deal with that matter or any other competent body,’” Kariyawasam stated in the press release. Kariyawasam also opined that the Court of Appeal cannot overrule the Supreme Court decision in Sarath Fonseka vs. the Secretary-General of Parliament. “Upholding the ruling of the Speaker disqualifying Sarath Fonseka under Article 89 of the Constitution, the Court held that a court martial is a court coming within the orbit of Article 89,” he explained. He cited Article 89d and 91(1) (a), arguing that Jayasekara, having being convicted, cannot sit in Parliament.

“No person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament, or to sit and vote in Parliament, if he is or becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 89,” he pointed out.

Kariyawasam also pointed out that such an act has no precedent in other Commonwealth Parliaments, in addition to the Speaker’s ruling on Sarath Fonseka, and highlighted that both apply to Parliament, urging the Speaker to reconsider his decision.

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Ratnapura District MP Premalal Jayasekara, alias ‘Choka Malli’, and two others, who were found guilty of shooting to death a person and critically injuring two others during the 2015 Presidential Election campaign. They were sentenced to death by the Ratnapura High Court in the lead-up to the August 2020 General Election. Many Opposition Members of Parliament objected to the move, and wore ‘black shawls’ (satakaya) to show their displeasure, when Jayasekara was allowed to take oaths.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) members in Parliament also staged a walk-out in protest after Jayasekara took oaths.

(Source: Daily FT)