- SC defers petition for 10 September
By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Supreme Court yesterday deferred the Fundamental Rights petition filed by Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), challenging the President’s decision to pardon Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, for 10 September.
The Bench comprised Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Prasanna S. Jayawardena and L.B.T. Dehideniya.
Ven. Gnanasara Thero was jailed for six years, after being found guilty of Contempt of Court, over his conduct during a court hearing regarding the case of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda.
The Petition states the decision to pardon Ven. Gnanasara Thero was a threat to judicial integrity, and undermined the authority of the Court.
It seeks a declaration that the Petitioners’ fundamental rights, guaranteed under Article 12(1) of the Constitution, have been violated.
On 23 May, Ven. Gnanasara Thero was released from Welikada prison, on being granted a Presidential pardon.
In August 2018, Ven. Gnanasara Thero was sentenced by the Court of Appeal to 19 years rigorous imprisonment, to be served concurrently within six years, over his contemptuous behaviour inside the Homagama Magistrate’s Court.
On 5 October 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal judgment that found Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero guilty over his contemptuous behaviour inside the Homagama Magistrate’s Court on 25 January 2016.
It states the Constitution does not permit the President to act in a manner that undermines and erodes the independence of the Judiciary in exercising his right to pardon under Article 34 of the Constitution. CPA reiterates that grant of pardon for Gnanasara Thero for Contempt of Court frustrates the power of the Judiciary to maintain its authority and uphold its dignity and the rule of law.
Viran Corea appeared for the Petitioner. Deputy Solicitor General Viraj Dayaratne appeared for the Attorney General.