- The CID were also investigating allegations that the former defence secretary may have voted illegally as a non-citizen, or obtained passports in an irregular manner
By Nirmala Kannangara
The Court of Appeal will hear today a writ petition filed by two civil society activists seeking to quash the claim to Sri Lankan citizenship made by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
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The petitioners have sought the extraordinary interim relief from the court of suspending Rajapaksa from being recognized as a citizen of Sri Lanka ‘in view of the impending presidential election, and the adverse impact on the right of franchise of the citizenry, including those who may vote for the non-citizen Rajapaksa, and the grave and irreparable harm and damage that would be caused to the petitioners and the citizens of Sri Lanka, including the threat to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and national security of Sri Lanka, if a non-citizen is permitted to contest for the presidency’.
The Petitioners are seeking interim orders suspending the operation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s passport and National Identity Card (NIC), preventing the government agencies from ‘acting on the basis that’ Rajapaksa is a Sri Lankan citizen, and restraining Rajapaksa, his agents and servants from holding out or representing that he is a citizen of Sri Lanka.
The writ application is based largely on several documents filed by the CID before the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court in connection with an investigation regarding Rajapaksa’s initial entry to Sri Lanka in 2005 as an American citizen on a tourist visa and allegedly conducting presidential election campaign activities on a tourist visa. The CID were also investigating allegations that the former defence secretary may have voted illegally as a non-citizen, or obtained passports in an irregular manner.
Rajapaksa has repeatedly denied all of the allegations levelled against him, and accused the government of embarking on a political witch hunt to prevent him from being elected President at the November election.
The police investigations were sparked by complaints made to the Acting IGP by civil society activists Gamini Viyangoda and Professor Chandragupta Thenuwara.
The petitioners state that they were ‘deeply disturbed’ by news reports published on September 20th suggesting that the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court had rejected an application made by the CID to arrest Rajapaksa in connection with their complaint, and cited a denial issued by the police spokesman the same day.
“In view of the confusion created and the Petitioners’ concern about the progress of the investigations into their complaints,” the petitioners obtained certified copies of the ‘B’ reports filed by the CID in the Magistrate’s Court. Upon receipt of the certified copies, the petitioners say they became aware of numerous matters ‘pertaining to the purported grant of citizenship to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’.
Rajapaksa was born a Sri Lankan citizen on 20 June 1949, and is said to have lost his Sri Lankan citizenship on 31 January 2003, when he became a citizen of the United States of America. He holds a certificate of dual citizenship granted to him on 21 November 2005, three days before he became defence secretary.
It is this certificate that the petitioners claim is “ultra vires the applicable law including the Citizenship Act”, “null and void and of no force or effect in law.” It is on this alleged basis that the petitioners seek to prevent Rajapaksa from being treated as a citizen of Sri Lanka.