By Shamindra Ferdinando
Civil society activist Oshala Herath has sought Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya’s intervention to expedite investigations into a complaint he lodged with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Nov 1, 2020, as regards Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmaker Diana Gamage being a British passport holder.
The SJB accommodated the former actress on its National List following the last parliamentary election in August 2020. MP Gamage has since switched her allegiance to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).
Diana Gamage served as the Chairperson of the Ranminitenne tele cinema village during the yahapalana administration.
In terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in 2015 foreign passport holders were not eligible to enter Parliament.
Herath said that he had written to the Chief Justice on 09 Dec. after having failed to convince those responsible, including the Parliament, to inquire into his complaint. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena should inquire into the accusation whether a British national functioned as a Member of Parliament here. Having served the then President Maithripala Sirisena’s media outfit, Herath contested Colombo at the last general election in August 2020 on the UNP ticket.
MP Gamage has repeatedly denied Herath’s accusations. The complainant said that the CID recorded his statement on Dec 26, 2020 only after he got in touch with Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera. In his letter to CJ Jayasuriya, Herath quoted CID officers as having told him that his complaint as regards the MP being a British national is accurate. Herath quoted the CID further as having informed him on January 19, 2021 that following the conclusion of the inquiry the relevant report has been submitted to the Director, CID.
Responding to another query, Herath said that his Attorney-at-Law sought clarification as regards the status of the investigation from the then Director, CID Nishantha de Zoysa and was informed on March 04, 2021 that a ‘B’ report has been filed in respect of my complaint bearing 48037,1/21 at the Chief Magistrate’s court, Colombo.
According to Herath, through his Attorney-at-Law, he was able to obtain a certified copy of the said ‘B’ report on 27 April, 2021 though the case seemed to be sort of discarded.
Herath questioned the failure on the part of the CID to at least record MP Gamage’s statement over a year after he lodged a complaint with the CID. Herath said that the SLPP government’s much touted concept ‘One Country, One Law’ seemed irrelevant as the police were obviously not given a free hand to investigate.
Herath said that he provided copies of relevant documents, including his complaint to the Director, CID dated Nov 01. 2020 and the ‘B’ report to the CJ. In his letter to the CJ, Herath said that he lacked the wherewithal to proceed with the case and expected his intervention to ensure expeditious conclusion of the legal proceedings.
Herath pointed out that investigators appeared to have dropped the high profile case after having recorded statements from Deputy Controller, Immigration and Emigration Dinushan Ramawickrema, Controller (Visa) Immigration and Emigration Jinani Atukorala, Deputy Commissioner, Registrar of Persons Department Chalani Weerakoon, Former Treasury Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, former Additional Secretary Ramani Padmaseeli Gunawardena , Additional District Registrar, Thimbirigasyaya Jivani Karunaratne, Divisional Secretariat, Dehiwala Mangalika Fernando and Grama Sevaka, Arangala.
Herath said that the CID in March this year informed the Colombo Magistrate’s court that information in that regard had been sought from the British High Commission in Colombo to proceed with the case. Herath said that the CID in its ‘B’ report clearly stated that on the basis of statements recorded from relevant officials, the suspect had violated two specific sections of 45 (1) of 1948 No 20 Immigrants and Emigrants Act and Amendments.
Herath asked whether MP Gamage received government protection as she switched sides and was engaged in a running battle with the SJB. Gamage has challenged in the Supreme Court an SJB move to expel her from the party over her voting with the SLPP parliamentary group on several contentious matters, particularly the Colombo Port City Economic Bill in Oct 2020.