PM praises SLPP constituents, pledges to eliminate factors that drive youth away – The Island

Same request to be made from CIABOC

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has sought information in terms of the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Attorney General’s Department pertaining to the withdrawal of indictments in a number of cases following the last presidential election in Nov. 2019.

Colombo District SJB lawmaker Mujibur Rahman made the appeal on behalf of the main Opposition party. A four-member parliamentary delegation consisting of Rahman, J.C. Alawathuwala, Harshana Rajakaruna and Kavinda Jayawardana visited the AG’s Department yesterday (02).

Having made a request from the AG, lawmaker Rahman told The Island that though the media had reported withdrawal of indictments filed in respect of high profile cases, the SJB felt the need to seek clarification from the AG.

The former UNPer pointed out that the indictments that had been filed during the tenure of Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, in his capacity as AG were withdrawn when he served as the Chief Justice.  Dappula de Livera, PC, succeeded Jayasuriya in late April 2019. Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, succeeded de Livera in May, 2021.

The Bill entitled ‘Right to Information’ was passed with amendments in Parliament during the previous administration.

Responding to another query, MP Rahman said that the SJB sought (i) the number of indictments withdrawn after the last presidential election (ii) specific cases (iii) case numbers of the indictments and (iv) on what dates have the indictments and/or court proceedings filed by the AG after the last presidential election been withdrawn?

MP Rahman said that the SJB requested an opportunity to examine relevant work, documents, records and take down notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records and take certified samples of material.

The SJB would shortly seek information from the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) as regards the cases withdrawn since the change of government in Nov 2019. Although the public knew of the cases withdrawn over the past two years, the SJB would use RTI to compel the AG and the CIABOC to explain the circumstances, he said.

“We would like to know how the AG and CIABOC decided on high profile cases,” MP Rahuman said adding that those institutions couldn’t ignore their concerns.

The SJB spokesman said that the CIABOC owed an explanation as to how the decision to drop all charges against former lawmaker and Foreign Ministry Monitoring MP Sajin Vass Gunawardena pertaining to the Mihin Lanka case was arrived at. That particular case dealt with misappropriation of public funds amounting to Rs 883 mn, the lawmaker said, while referring to the subsequent dismissal of cases involving one-time Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan, Johnston Fernando, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Basil Rajapaksa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon and former Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. The former CJ now serves as Sri Lanka’s top representative in New York.

MP Rahman said that they intended to take up the issue both in and out of Parliament. Those who propagated the ‘One Country, One Law’ concept as part of SLPP’s overall political strategy should first of all ensure the implementation of existing laws. The government shouldn’t under any circumstances circumvent the law for the benefit of its members, the MP said, pointing out that so many indictments filed against influential persons hadn’t been withdrawn in such a short period.

The SJB MP said that they were in the process of gathering information pertaining to judicial matters. “Once we obtain the official position as regards sensationally dismissed cases, the public can be briefed,” then the genuine Opposition in Parliament, the civil society and the media could pursue the matter, MP Rahman said.

Asked whether the SJB expected the international community, too, to pay attention to the matters concerning the judiciary, lawmaker Rahman said that the government couldn’t adopt double standards. The government repeatedly assured the international community that Sri Lanka law was able to cope up with accountability issues, the MP said. However, dismissal of cases against those connected with the government   under controversial circumstances was causing concern among those interested, the MP claimed.

Thank you

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