The Supreme Court today sentenced actor-turned parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake to four years rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court.
The judgment was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Justices Sisira de Abrew, Vijith Malalgoda and Preethi Padman Surasena.
Meanwhile, Ramanayake will be sent to the Pallansena Quarantine Center, said prison spokesman Chandana Ekanayake.
The case was filed against former State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake over Contempt of Court charges for making defamatory remarks against the judiciary on August 21, 2017.
On August 27, 2017, in front of Temple Trees MP Ramanayake said that “majority in Sri Lanka are corrupt Judges, corrupt lawyers. About 95% of them are working for money. They every day protected murderers, corrupt people and drug dealers for money.”
After filing the case, MP Ramanayake further made different statements in front of the Supreme Court and those recordings were also considered when delivering the verdict. Some statements are as follows:
On December 14, 2017, the Respondent said that “I will not under any circumstances, withdraw the opinion expressed by me. Therefore I told only about these Judges.”
On March 23, 2018, the Respondent said that “if the Honorable court gets some self-satisfaction to conclude it after sending me to jail, I will very happily go. I will not withdraw anything what I have said.”
On June 4, 2018, the Respondent said that “As at present I have twenty-one ceases. I will not withdraw what I have said.”
MP Ramanayake on September 5, 2018, again said that “I will never withdraw. Even if they sentenced me to one year, two years, five years, ten years, twenty years or life imprisonment, I maintain what I have said.”
Retired Air Force Officer Sunil Perera and Venerable Magalkande Sudatta Thera had filed two petitions in the Supreme Court alleging that such offensive comments can lose public confidence and provide a distorted image of the judiciary to the people of Sri Lanka.
Based on these complaints, the Attorney General had later served the charges against Ramanayake before the Supreme Court.
However, in the Court, the charge was read to the Respondent and an opportunity was given to him to plead guilty to the charge and he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
During the proceedings, MP Ramanayake also informed the Court that he had no intention of mentioning of Judges but had the intention of speaking about lawyers. He also added that his intention was to criticize the former Minister of Justice.
It was also informed to the Court that in the statement MP Ramanayake made outside the Temple Trees, he did not want to speak about Judges but the word ‘Judges’ slipped from his mouth.
When delivering the verdict the three-bench Judges informed that although MP Ramanayake says in his evidence that he had no intention to refer to Judges in his initial statement made outside the Temple Trees, his subsequent statements made several occasions indicated and clearly demonstrated that his intention was to refer to Judges.
President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran appearing for the Respondent informed the Judges that according to the evidence led before the Court, nothing had been said against the Supreme Court and that therefore the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the case. (Yoshitha Perera)