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Contempt of Supreme Court Case: ASG piles on arguments to convict Ranjan Ramanayake

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By Chitra Weerarathne

Accused, Ranjan Ramanayake, though a politician, did not have special power to criticise the Supreme Court and contempt of court laws applied equally to all citizens, Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanne, President’s Counsel yesterday told the Supreme Court. 

The Additional Solicitor General said the Supreme Court was vested with very wide jurisdiction as the highest Court in the land to punish persons found guilty of contempt of court.

 Sarath Jayamanne PC, appeared for the Attorney General, in the contempt of court application against Ranjan Ramanayake, accused of tarnishing the image of judges and lawyers, at a press conference, held in Colombo. Ramanayake is a Janabalavegaya Parliamentarian for the Gampaha District.

Article 105 (3) empowers, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal to punish persons for contempt of court, the ASG explained.

The ASG said that the Attorney General has been invited by the Court to appear an Amicus curiae to assist the court.

The accused was permitted to summon witnesses of his choice.

The accused Ramanayake in his impugned utterances said that most of the judges were corrupt. They included the judges of the Supreme Court. What he had said amounted to contempt of the Supreme Court. If it was allowed, tomorrow films would be made to bring the Supreme Court into disrepute. That would be scandalous. It would mark the end of the judicial system.

Members of Parliament or public representatives should not be allowed to discredit the judges, the Additional Solicitor General said.

Politicians and other citizens were subject to same contempt of court laws.

ASG Jayamanne argued that the prosecution does not have to prove the intention of the accused in a contempt of court case. The Article 105/3 of the constitution had recognised Supreme law. The contempt of court had always been treated as an offence. The penalty could be imprisonment and or a fine.

In the Criminal Procedure Code, offence was an act or ommission, punishable by law, Jayamanne said.

Ramanayake too had taken contradictory positions. Once he said he meant the judges. Then again in his evidence he said he did not mean the judges. The contradictory evidence confirms the accusation.

For insulting the court there was no defence, Sarath Jayamanne PC stressed.

A judgement could be examined in a professional way. But insulting the court was an offence, he said.

The bench comprised Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice Vijith K. Malalagoda and Justice Preethi Padman Soorasena.

The case will be mentioned again on October 21.

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Foreign qualified medical students protest

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A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament

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Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court

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By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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