SJB MPs protest after Speaker announces Ranjan Ramanayake seat is vacant  

Thursday, 8 April 2021 02:43 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Speaker says SG of Parliament has informed EC of vacant seat in Gampaha District
  • Decision comes 3 months after Ramanayake’s conviction by SC for contempt of Court
  • SJB MPs walk to Well of House in protest
  • Ajith Mannapperuma to fill vacant seat

Opposition lawmakers yesterday protested at the Well of the House after Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced that the seat of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Gampaha District MP Ranjan Ramanayake has fallen vacant, three months after he was sentenced by the Supreme Court (SC) to four years rigorous imprisonment for contempt of court.

The protest led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa was sparked by the Speaker’s announcement that Ramanayake’s seat had fallen vacant with immediate effect.

The Secretary General (SG) of Parliament informed the Chairman of the Election Commission (EC) that Ramanayake ceased to be a Member of Parliament following his conviction, and accordingly there was a vacant seat in Parliament with respect to the electoral district of Gampaha, in terms of the Article 66 (d) of the Constitution. This notice was issued by the Secretary General of Parliament in terms of Section 64 (01) of the Parliamentary Elections Act No. 01 of 1981, the Speaker announced.

Following this the SJB MPs walked up to the Speaker’s chair in protest.

Premadasa said that the Speaker had prevented the SJB from moving a leave motion on Ramanayake’s behalf before the three months had lapsed. 

“You did not allow us to move the motion on Tuesday, saying that you would look into legal provisions prior to informing the Chairman of the Election Commission. However, you have secretly made your decision,” Premadasa charged.

The Speaker said his decision was made after consulting the Attorney General, and after studying the constitutional provisions.

Government MPs came to Abeywardena’s defence, saying that MPs could not question a ruling by the Speaker and proceeded to prevent the SJB MPs from encircling the Speaker’s chair. Ajith Mannapperuma, who is next on the Gampaha District list, will fill the vacancy in Parliament.