By Nirmala Kannangara
Two civil society activists yesterday filed an appeal with the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision by the Court of Appeal (CA) last month to dismiss their writ application that sought to quash the dual citizenship certificate of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Prof. Chandragupta Thenuwara and Gamini Viyangoda, co-conveners of the Purawesi Balaya civil society group, had filed a writ application in the CA challenging the authenticity of the dual citizenship certificate granted to the former Defence Secretary on November 21, 2005 by his brother, newly-sworn in President
On Friday, October 4, after several days of hearings, a three-judge bench of the CA dismissed the application. The bench comprised CA President Yasantha Kodagoda and Justices Mahinda Samayawardana and
Arjuna Obeysekera. A detailed written order was issued by the court a week later, in which the bench stated that President Rajapaksa was the “repository” of executive power under the Constitution and was able to lawfully exercise the powers vested in a minister by law, even before the appointment of a Cabinet of Ministers. The Judges also ruled that the two activists had no standing to file the application, should have filed it several years ago, and had made the application for a collateral political purpose. In the appeal filed yesterday, the petitioners have asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the CA erred in law by stating that the Constitution allowed a newly elected President to have exercised powers conferred on a minister by any written law before a Cabinet of Ministers is appointed. The appeal further asks the court to revise the CA finding that the President alone was “the repository of the executive power of the people,” and to reconsider the way in which the CA interpreted the Constitution in reaching their verdict.
The petitioners also ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the CA’s findings that they were guilty of unexplained delay, that they had filed the application for a collateral purpose and not as genuine public interest litigation, and that they had not disclosed a sufficient interest to have and maintain the application.
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