The government is under pressure from its own quarters not to penalise anyone with civil disabilities though the Presidential Commission that probed the political victimisation during the term of the previous Yahapalana government. The Commission had referred to violations of the Constitution and other wrongdoings by its leaders and officials warranting such punishment, Daily Mirror learns.
The Commission headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Upali Abeyratne had identified 22 political leaders and individuals of the previous government and the Opposition for the violation of the Constitution in establishing the Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) and the Anti-Corruption Committee Secretariat (ACCS) at that time.
Among them are former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Rauff Hakeem, Malik Samarawickrema and Sarath Fonseka, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader R. Sampanthan, TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Attorney-at-Law J.C. Weliamuna, former MP Dr Jayampathi Wickramaratne.
The Presidential Commission found that the establishment of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID), and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Sri Lanka Police were against the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It said those were acts that were politically motivated and contrary to the provisions in the Constitution.
The Commission had no judicial authority to hand down any punishment. However, the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry which was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to examine these recommendations of the Upali Abeyratne Commission had the judicial power to strip those found guilty of their civic rights. The latest commission was appointed under the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry Act .
The members of the Special Commission of Inquiry are Supreme Court Judges Dhammika Priyantha Jayawardena (Chairman), Kumudini Wickremasinghe and Court of Appeal Judge Rathnapriya Gurusinghe.
At the Government’s Parliamentary Group meeting on Monday evening, its MP Gevidu Cumaratunga was reported to have said that the government should not strip anyone of civic rights. Making his remarks further, he said such an act would set a bad precedent. Mr. Cumaratunga also said punishment for any wrongdoing should be imposed through a judicial process but not through Parliament. Also, he said such malpractices during the time of the Yahapalana government should be exposed to the public electorally.
“In the wake of such public exposure, their popularity will wane further. For example, the JVP which enjoyed six seats in the previous Parliament ended up with only three seats in the present Parliament. Also, the UNP ended with one seat,” he said. Justice Minister Ali Sabry and Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa subscribed to the stand taken by Mr. Cumaratunga.
Mr. Sabry said the people should decide on such politicians accused of wrongdoing during the former rule.
In 1980, the J.R. Jayawardena regime stripped the civic rights of former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike for seven years under the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry Act No. 7 of 1978 for the of abuse of power during office. (Kelum Bandara)