SJB vows to move SC over House dispute

By Saman Indrajith

The main Opposition SJB yesterday said it would move the Supreme Court seeking justice over an alleged attack on its MP Manusha Nanayakkara in the House on Friday if the Speaker delayed taking action against the attackers. Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella said the Speaker was controlled by the government. “We attended a special party leaders’ meeting on Monday and were shocked to observe that the Speaker did not even utter a single word about the assault on MP Nanayakkara. According to him, it is the duty of  the Chief Whips of the Government and the Opposition to maintain order in Parliament.”

Kiriella said that as per the British parliamentary tradition, the Speaker or the presiding member should listen to what the MPs state in the House and decide what should be expunged. “In our Parliament neither the Speaker nor the presiding member listens to speeches. This is unacceptable. If you check you can see that there are no tables for the Speaker or MPs of British Parliament because they are expected to listen to others’ speeches instead of being engrossed in other work during debates. For example, the day government MP Tissa Kuttiarachchi used unparliamentary language the presiding member was not listening to his speech and therefore did not act to have the derogatory terms expunged. That led to a dispute, which could have been prevented.”

The Chief Opposition Whip said that the Speaker had been asked to take immediate action with regard to the attack on MP Nanayakkara. “He was there in the Chamber when the incident happened. He should give a ruling on the matter. Otherwise, we will take the matter to the Supreme Court as per the provisions of the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act. I, in my capacity as the Chief Opposition Whip, have already informed the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union, Inter Parliamentary Union and the SAARC. We need an assurance that the freedom of speech will be ensured in Parliament,” Kiriella said.

SJB MPS Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Nalin Bandara Jayamaha also addressed the press.

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