By Shehan Daniel
Questioning both the legality of a gazette that dissolved the committee of office bearers at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in 2005 and the decision taken last week by the Sports Minister’s Advisory Committee to hear election related appeals, Mohan de Silva yesterday said that he would seek his day in court to challenge his disqualification from contesting the February 21 SLC elections.
Last week, de Silva, in line to contest for the SLC Presidency against Jayantha Dharmadasa, was disqualified from the race after Minister Harin Fernando’s Advisory Committee found that his nomination was in violation of regulations set in the Sports Law No. 25 of 1973 and the SLC Constitution.
Also disqualified was Ravin Wickramaratne, a candidate from de Silva’s faction, who had been nominated for the posts of Vice President, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer.
The grounds for disqualification cited by the Advisory Committee was that both de Silva and Wickramaratne had been part of SLC committees that was dissolved in 2001 and 2005, and thereby their nominations were in violation of Section 5(4)g of the Sports Law No. 25 of 1973.
De Silva alleged that the gazette issued in 2005 by then Sports Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga, that dissolved the committee under his presidency, had not been followed to the letter of the law.
“Former Minister Kumaratunga dissolved the committee through the powers vested him in Section 32 of the Sports Law, where it states: ‘The Minister may refuse registration, or suspend or cancel the registration, of a National Association of Sports–(a) for failing or neglecting to remedy any malpractices, misconduct or irregularities on the part of the office-bearers or members of such Association, on being noticed to do so in writing by the Secretary to the Ministry within such time as may be specified in such notice.’ The Sports Law clearly says that we need to be issued a notice through the Secretary [of the Minister of Sports], with reasons [for dissolving the committee]. However, we were not issued any notice or a charge sheet and yet we were suspended. We went to the Court of Appeal and got an interim order preventing the dissolution, and since the Minister called for elections in 2006 we withdrew the case,” he added, though also admitting that since the case was effectively over, the interim order was no longer in force.
De Silva further refuted the contents of Kumaratunga’s gazette, where it stated that the administration in 2005 had incurred a loss of Rs. 321 million, by producing a media release that his committee had issued soon after it was dissolved.
“Following the dissolution we released a statement that specifies how that loss was incurred and we showed that that was mostly due to committees before us. For one, SLC had not paid the ICC Registration fees for five years, which alone came to a cost of Rs. 293 million,” he said.
That media release also pointed out a dispute that had arisen with its television partner at the time, which resulted in SLC incurring a huge cost as settlement along with the forfeiture of television money, which de Silva said was reflected in the massive loss.
De Silva also claimed that the regulation in Section 5(4)g in the Sports Law, had not been applied to those in the opposite faction.
Dharmadasa and Nishantha Ranatunga, he said, were also in a SLC committee that was dissolved in 2015, following which a three-member committee – consisting of Attorney’s-at-Law Ravi Algama, Jaliya Bodinagoda and Varuna Mallawarachchi – had compiled a report of the allegations of corruption in Sri Lanka Cricket between January 2012 to April 2015.
“This report from 2015 shows who really has done wrong things. Jayantha was the President at the time and Nishantha was Secretary. They should face the same consequences we have faced. The law doesn’t apply in different ways to different people. That’s what we will challenge in court. We have not been given a charge sheet like this. If we had done something wrong then they could have formed a committee to look into if what we have done,” de Silva said.
“We believe and trust in an independent justice system and we are certain a fair verdict will be given when we present our case in court.”
The 2015 committee incidentally was dissolved in a gazette notification issued by then-Sports Minister Navin Dissanayake, who also cited Section 32 of the Sports Law.