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Top AG’s Dept. official compelled to retire in spite of court order for her reinstatement



Tribunal: Senadhipathy trapped SG Wickramasinghe with the help of UNP Minister

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Despite being cleared by the Administrative Appeals Division (AAD), the interdicted Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe hadn’t been allowed to return to the Attorney General’s Department regardless of specific instructions issued in that regard.

The AAD gave the ruling in respect of a case filed by Wickramasinghe against the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The then Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, interdicted SG Wickramasinghe on 25 Sept. 2019 following a leaked telephone conversation she had with Avant Garde proprietor Nissanka Senadhipathi, formerly of the Army Commando Regiment. The conversation was leaked to the media on 20 Sept., immediately after the recording of the discussion.

Wickramasinghe retired on July 30th after reaching the compulsory retirement age. The unprecedented ruling was given by a three-member AAD comprising Justice N.E. Dissanayake, A Gnanathasan, PC and G.P. Abeykeerthi. Justice Dissanayake functions as the Chairman of the highest tribunal empowered to inquire into such appeals.

Wickramasinghe appealed to teh AAD on Oct 5, 2020. The issue at hand before the AAD had been the disciplinary authority exercised by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in respect of the Solicitor General.

The original ruling given on July 14 was amended on July 22 subsequent to the PSC seeking clarification of some matters which the AAD considered important. The AAD acknowledged that the issues raised by the PSC hadn’t been taken into consideration at the time of the issuance of the July 14 ruling.

Attorney-at-law Riad Ameen and Assistant Secretary PSC Srinath Rubasinghe, appeared for Wickramasinghe and the PSC respectively.

The leaked telephone conversation in question was over the controversial case of the Avant Garde floating armoury that divided the previous government with Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana, PC and Justice Minister Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakse, PC, striking discordant notes.

Dappula de Livera’s successor, Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, hadn’t, however, allowed SG Wickramasinghe to resume work in spite of the original order nor the amendment ruling given on July 14 and July 22, respectively. A copy of the original order was delivered to the AG’s Office on the evening of July 14.

Rajaratnam succeeded de Livera on May 26 this year.

The AAD ordered (1) Immediate cancellation of PSC directive dated April 06, 2021 that placed SG on compulsory leave pending the completion of a formal inquiry (2) Rescinding of the PSC directive dated October 19, 2020 that sent the SG on compulsory leave to pave the way for her to resume duties (3) Retiring her on July 30, 2021 on her reaching the compulsory retirement age and (4) finalising the much-delayed formal inquiry into the SG’s conduct in terms of Public Administration Circular 30/2019 dated September 30, 2019, expeditiously.

However, the above-mentioned directives were not carried out and SG Wickramasinghe had to retire on reaching the retirement age.

Acknowledging that Wickramasinghe had found fault with the present PSC for the undue delay in finalising the preliminary inquiry and reinstate her, the AAD declared that the PSC failed to ‘exercise its discretion in a justifiable, reasonable and an objective manner.

One-time Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) Wickramasinghe declined to comment on the AAD ruling.

The AAD in its observations in the order pointed out that Senadhipathy had trapped SG Wickramasinghe with the help of the then UNP Minister Vajira Abeywardena, who gave his phone to SG Wickramasinghe, stating that Senadhipathy was on line. According to the proceedings, Abeywardena had received the call at a Colombo hotel while he was having dinner with SG Wickramasinghe and her husband.

Abeywadena is the current Chairman of the UNP. He was not immediately available for comment.

The AAD expressed astonishment at the failure on the part of those who conducted the preliminary inquiry to record Abeywardena’s statement or examine his phone. The AAD noted that Senadhipathy had got to SG Wickramasinghe through the Abeywardena’s phone after Wickramasinghe strongly opposed the minister inviting Avant Garde Chairman to have dinner with them at the Abeywardena’s residence.

The AAD stated that it had the power to take remedial measures in respect of decisions ‘tainted with error in law and fact’ taken by the PSC.

The AAD noted that SG Wickramasinghe hadn’t initiated the call and from the outset she insisted that the recording was ‘doctored, edited and distorted.’ Proceedings have revealed that AG de Livera had first listened to a tape recording that was edited at ten places and Senadhipathy himself admitted having edited the recording but he never submitted the original to the Preliminary Investigation Committee. The AAD pointed out that the AG de Livera at the time he made a statement at the preliminary investigations based his assessment on what the AAD called an edited, distorted and unauthentic version of the recording. In spite of this, the AG subsequently acknowledged that the audio tape he had listened to was distorted. However, a second statement hadn’t been recorded from him. But the PSC deciding to issue a charge sheet dated March 23, 2021 although the Preliminary Investigation team said the audio tape had been tampered with.



Wimal asks for PSC probe into top officials’ complicity in violence



Colombo HC lawyers concerned over shocking developments

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, says a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) should be appointed to investigate the role played by IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (retd.) Jagath Alwis in the recent SLPP hothead attack on those demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, including Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Weerawansa yesterday (18) told The Island that Parliament should inquire into the unprovoked attack that triggered an extremely violent response by the public as well as those awaiting an opportunity to unleash violence on selected group of lawmakers on 09 May.

The former Industries Minister said he was confident that Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, would look into the issues at hand.

Responding to another query, Weerawansa said that Senior DIG Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon’s claim that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary had interfered with his (Tennakoon’s) plan to disperse the SLPP mobs couldn’t be easily dismissed.

MP Weerawansa declared, in Parliament on Tuesday (17), that the IGP and the Public Security Ministry dissuaded the Senior DIG from performing his duties although he had received specific instructions from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stop the march on Galle Face. The former JVPer questioned whether those conspirators wanted to show the world the failure on the part of the police and the armed forces to maintain law and order.

Asked whether police headquarters and the Public Security Ministry had responded to his accusations, Weerawansa said he hadn’t been contacted by them so far.

Pointing out that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), inquiring into 09 May turmoil had recorded Senior DIG’s statement, Weerawansa said that the outfit could issue an interim statement on the matter.

The Colombo High Court Lawyers’ Association said that the shocking revelation, made in Parliament, should be expeditiously inquired into.

The Association’s President Attorney-at-Law Lakshman Perera said that the ongoing investigations had taken an unexpected turn in the wake of high profile specific allegations pertaining to the conduct of the IGP, as well as the Public Security Ministry Secretary. Pointing out that the HRCSL and the CID had already recorded DIG Tennakoon’s statement, pertaining to the incidents, and the officer was among a group of 22 persons slapped with a travel ban by the Fort Magistrate, lawyer Perera said that the CID couldn’t turn a blind eye to accusations directed at the head of the department as well as Secretary to the relevant ministry.

Lawyer Perera said that investigations couldn’t be completed without verifying accusations made in Parliament.

Lawmaker Weerawansa said that the question was on whose behalf the IGP and the Public Security Ministry Secretary intervened at a time the country was under emergency and after the Senior DIG in charge of Colombo received specific instructions from the President himself.

Although the SLPP goons did not shed any blood or cause any serious injuries, unlike the well-organized mobs that caused havoc across the country thereafter, MP Weerawansa said that he couldn’t comprehend why the police and the armed forces allowed the situation to develop to an extremely dangerous level.

The HRCSL in its initial reaction to the unprovoked attacks on those who had been demanding the resignation of the government condemned the violence caused by a group of people who made it very clear that violence was their intention.

HRCSL Chairperson retired Supreme Court Justice Rohini Marasinghe said: “The failure of the police to prepare for this eventuality and prevent and manage the violence and destruction is a gross failure of public order. There must be an immediate inquiry into this matter. The inaction of the police to prevent the clash is condemned.”

The Island brought the latest developments to the notice of the HRCSL yesterday as MP Weerawansa said that those who conspired and planned the project that involved those at the helm of Temple Trees then and the SLPP should be arrested. The conspirators shouldn’t be allowed to escape justice while the CID arrested those who carried out the actual attacks.

Police spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the department couldn’t respond to what transpired in Parliament. Acknowledging that he was aware of the allegations made in Parliament, Attorney-at-Law Thalduwa said in case their response was sought through proper channels, whatever the queries would be answered.

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Dr. Pathirana says IGP, Public Security Ministry Secy. allowed goon attacks



Galle District parliamentarian Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has reiterated that IGP C.D. Wickremaratne and Secretary to the Public Security Ministry, Maj. General (retd) Jagath Alwis had facilitated the 09 May unprovoked attack on anti-government protesters.

The former Minister Pathirana declared in Parliament yesterday (18) that National Freedom Front (NFF) leader MP Wimal Weerawansa’s allegation, pertaining to the origins of the violence, was true.

Dr. Pathirana said that he was among those who had brought supporters to attend a meeting chaired by the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The vast majority of those who attended the Temple Trees meet on May 09 wanted to thank the war-winning President as he gave up active politics, the MP said. However, some unscrupulous members had instigated the participants there.

Dr. Pathirana said he had been at Temple Trees at that time and as he feared violence could erupt due inflammatory speeches, contact was made with Senior DIG in charge of Colombo Deshabandu Tennakoon. Dr. Pathirana said that the senior police officer had assured him that the police were ready to face the situation and confident of preventing those who attended the Temple Trees function from reaching Galle Face.

“Thereafter, I left Temple Trees for a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There were several other members. When trouble erupted, President Rajapaksa immediately got in touch with Senior DIG Tennakoon, who revealed he had been asked not to use force by the IGP himself.”

Dr. Pathirana said the President had asked the senior law enforcement officer why he didn’t carry out instructions issued by him (the President).

The Galle District MP emphasised that the IGP and the Secretary to the Public Security Ministry were responsible for the violence at Kollupitiya and Fort police areas which triggered violence in many parts of the country. (SF)

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New Deputy Speaker not from Rajapaksa political dynasty



Newly-elected Deputy Speaker Ajith Rajapaksa said that he was not a member of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s clan.

The Hambantota District Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawmaker said so when The Island asked him whether he, too, was a member of the Rajapaksa family now under fire over the continuing political-economic-social turmoil.

Rajapaksa polled 109 votes at a secret vote held in Parliament on Tuesday (17) to secure the Deputy Speaker’s post. MP Rajapaksa defeated Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Rohini Kaviratne, who polled 78 votes.

The SLPP rebel group members refrained from voting for Rajapaksa after the top SLPP leadership ignored their appeal to fill the vacancy through consultations with the SJB.

Rajapaksa succeeded SLFP’s Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who quit the post twice, the second occasion after beating SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at a secret vote.

Deputy Speaker Rajapaksha said that he had served as the Chairman of the Ambalanthota Pradeshiya Sabha in 1997. Subsequently, he became a member of the Southern Provincial Council.

Asked whether he was a resident of the Rajapaksas’ home base, Deputy Speaker said that he was from Pallerotta, Ambalantota. (SF)

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