- Opp. MPs request Speaker to allow jailed MP to attend sittings
- Speaker says decision will be taken after consulting with legal experts
- Opp. says decision with Speaker, not SC or AG
|Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday said he would require at least three weeks to study in detail and give a ruling on whether jailed SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake can continue as a Member of Parliament.
Having listened to lengthy arguments from both sides of the House on Ramanayake’s eligibility to continue as an MP, after his conviction by the Supreme Court to four years Rigorous Imprisonment for a Contempt of Court charge, the Speaker said he would have to get the necessary legal advice before giving a ruling.
“I gave my ruling on MP Premalal Jayasekera after a careful consideration of relevant laws and proceedings. He was not allowed to attend Parliament sessions soon after his conviction, but it was after lengthy consultations I ruled he could attend sittings. In the case of Ranjan Ramanayake too, I will have to consult legal experts. The prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation does not allow me to meet legal experts in a hurry. Therefore, I need some time to consult with the relevant experts, and will give a ruling in three weeks,” the Speaker said.
Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa was among several opposition MPs who questioned why permission had not been given for Ramanayake to attend Parliament.
“The Chairman of the Election Commission has confirmed that Ramanayake will only lose his seat as and when he completes six months of his prison sentence. Therefore, we don’t see why he cannot be allowed to attend sessions,” Premadasa said.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella too said the SJB MP should be allowed to attend sittings. “The discretion is solely with the Speaker. Neither the courts nor the AG can intervene in this regard,” Kiriella said.
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage however countered that the Attorney General had clearly stated that Ramanayake lost his seat following the Supreme Court verdict.
“MP Ramanayake was convicted because he went about accusing the judges and influenced the courts. He even said judicial officers are rogues when he was being taken away after the verdict,” Aluthgamage said. (CK)