The order on the revision application which raised the legal issue of the maintainability of the Avant Garde case, was fixed to be delivered on June 14, 2019, by the Court of Appeal yesterday.
The Bench, comprising of Justice Achala Wengappully and Justice Arjuna Obeysekara, also extended the interim stay order, which prevented the Magistrate's Court from inquiring into the Avant Garde case until the pronouncement of the final decision over the revision application.
When the Bribery Commission filed the corruption case against the suspects in the Chief Magistrate’s Court, the defence took the stance that under the section 78 (1) of the Bribery Act and that there was a need of a written sanction by the ‘Commission’ so as to institute such an action by the prosecution and therefore the case should be dismissed.
However, this argument was overruled by the Chief Magistrate. The defence then filed a revision application in the High Court against the Chief Magistrate’s order.
The High Court Judge, also referring to the section 78 of the Bribery Act, rejected to allow the defence argument. Consequently, Petitioner Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who had filed a revision application in the Court of Appeal on the High Court rejection of his application, sought to acquit and release him from Avant Garde Case.
In August last year (2018), bringing a whole new aspect to the defence argument, Romesh de Silva PC challenged the High Court Judge’s order, saying that while the High Court Judge was interpreting section 78 of the Bribery Act (upon which the defence’s legal argument is based on), he had referred to a wrong section which did not exist as law.
Thereafter, the Court of Appeal issued an interim stay order preventing the Magistrate's Court taking further action over the case and allowed the arguments to be submitted over the revision application.
The Bribery Commission had filed this corruption case against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and seven others for allegedly causing a Rs.11.4 billion unlawful loss to the government when giving permission to Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd to operate a floating armoury.
Romesh de Silva PC with M.U.M.Ali Sabry PC, Sugath Caldera, Ruwantha Cooray and Farith de Mel instructed by Sanath Wijewardande appeared for Gotabaya. (Shehan Chamika Silva)