Speaker to issue new directive on arrest of MPs after Tissa saga

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent A new directive is expected from Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa this week, clarifying the procedure law enforcement agencies have to follow prior to arresting Members of Parliament. Attanayake was arrested over producing fraudulent documents, which surfaced during the presidential elections, tarnishing the image of the common candidate and his campaign. Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva said: “The Speaker was not informed. There is no good governance in practice.” Deputy Minister of Power and Energy Palitha Range Bandara requested the Speaker to interpret the procedure which should be followed during the arrest of MPs. Highlighting an arrest of a MP in 1971 during Prime Minister W. Dahanayake’s period the same question was raised in the Parliament. “Stanley Tillakaratne the Speaker held that such arrest was wrong and the Speaker was to be informed prior to an arrest,” MP Vasudewa Nanayakkara told the House. However, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne disagreed with the requirement of keeping the Speaker informed, saying: “If you check the Hansard of 1994, the Speaker held that it is not required to inform the House of an arrest of a member.” Despite the debate about keeping the Speaker and the House informed over the arrest of an MP, Deputy Minister of Justice Sujeewa Senasinghe requested the Speaker to issue a directive on the matter. “Regardless of the side a member takes in Parliament it is important a new directive is received. We would like the Speaker’s directive in this regard, regardless of what other Speakers held in the past,” Senasinghe said.