By Asiri Fernando
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) will appeal the decision by the Civil Appeal High Court yesterday regarding the suspension of United National Party (UNP) membership held by its members and take the matter to the Supreme Court.
The Civil Appeal High Court of the Western Province yesterday rejected an appeal submitted by the SJB, seeking to annul a decision made by the Colombo District Court on the matter of SJB members’ UNP membership being suspended. The Court rejected the appeal without a hearing, and ordered SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara to pay Rs. 25,000 as court expense.
“We will not back down and we will take the case to the Supreme Court.
On 5 August the matter will also be decided by the public at the ballot box,” an SJB spokesman told the Daily FT.
The SJB took the UNP party membership issue to court after the UNP Working Committee suspended the membership of 102 party members, who had sought nominations from the SJB to run for the upcoming General Elections.
The UNP maintains that the party can revoke the membership of those who had sought nominations from another party. The SJB claim that their UNP membership cannot be revoked as the SJB was established under a directive given by the UNP Working Committee in February.
“The Courts have upheld the UNP’s actions, they can appeal but it shows that they want to return to the party, the creators of the SJB will not be welcomed back at the UNP, the others may be absorbed back again,” said UNP Legal Secretary Nissanka Nanayakkara.
The formation of the SJB and the termination of the UNP membership of those who joined the SJB ranks is one of the latest developments of a long-running leadership battle within the UNP between two factions, one pro-Ranil Wickremesinghe and the other supporting Sajith Premadasa as the next leader of the UNP and calling for Wickremesinghe to step down.
The resulting tug-of-war between the two groups has seen the UNP split ahead of the General Election.