- Court held that public property charges against the accused cannot be maintained
By Lakmal Sooriyagoda
Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered to release ten accused including former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Central Bank former Governor Arjuna Mahendran from 11 charges out of 22 in connection with the third Central Bank bond issuance case.
The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar bench comprising High Court Judges Amal Ranaraja, Namal Balalle and Aditya Patabedige held that public property charges against the accused cannot be maintained. Accordingly, the Court ordered to release ten accused from eleven charges.
The indictments had been filed against Perpetual Treasuries Private Ltd, former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, CBSL former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) beneficiary owner Arjun Aloysius, PTL Chief dealer Kasun Palisena, Chairman of PTL Jeffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa and Badugoda Hewa Indika Saman Kumara in connection with a bond auction held on March 31, 2016.
Delivering the order, the Trial-at-Bar bench held that indictments cannot be maintained against a Company under the Public Property Act. The court further held that the Public Property Act is unique legislation and the Hansard record at the time shows that the legislature intended it to be used against natural people and not the Companies.
Additional Solicitor General Priyantha Nawana appearing for the Attorney General informed the court that the Attorney General’s stance regarding the future cause of action was to be informed on January 26.
The case was dismissed on a preliminary objection raised by defence including the 7th accused Ranjan Hulugalle.
The 7th Accused in his objections submitted to the court that a Company can be charged under the Public Property Act and that the Act does not envisage a company to be convicted. He also said that the Law in Sri Lanka does not contemplate an artificial entity committing the crimes it was accused of in the indictment.
President’s Counsel Anil Silva, Counsel Asela Serasinghe, Hafeel Farisz, Sahan Kulatunga and Vishwaka Peiris appeared for the 7th accused.
President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana with Navin Marapana PC and Shavindra Fernando PC appeared for the defence.
The Attorney General had alleged that the Perpetual Treasuries limited is using the Central Bank’s important undisclosed information to artificially alter the outcome of the Treasury bond auction, as it has had a huge impact on the overall national economy as a result of the subtle and systematic conduct of the offences related to this fraud and has caused injustice to other primary sellers in the bond market and the PTL has acted cunningly and made a huge profit and conspired to cause a huge loss to the government.
- The court further held that the Public Property Act is unique legislation and the Hansard record at the time shows that the legislature intended it to be used against natural people and not the Companies