By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Court of Appeal yesterday (3) ruled that Galle District UPFA Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was not entitled to hold the post of a Member of Parliament as she had contested the election while being a dual citizen.
Justice Preethi Padman Surasena with Justice Vijith Malalgoda (President/CA ) agreeing also directed the State to recover the cost from her as the debt to the State for the each day she sat in the Parliament knowing that she was a dual citizen and being disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.
The Attorney General had earlier informed the Court of Appeal that MP Geetha Kumarasinghe was still a citizen of Switzerland and according to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a person who has dual citizenship cannot be an MP.
Deputy Solicitor General Janak De Silva had also informed Court that, according to Clause 91(1) of the Constitution, she was not entitled to Parliamentary privileges and could not be a Member of Parliament.
The Appeal Court held that Galle District UPFA MP Kumarasinghe could no longer function as a Member of Parliament as she had contested the general election while bearing dual citizenship.
The former actress-turned politician Kumarasinghe holds dual citizenship in Sri Lanka and Switzerland.
Under the Constitution of Sri Lanka, no person can be elected to Parliament if they hold dual citizenship.
Five voters of the Galle District have filed a petition in the Court of Appeal requesting Court to declare Kumarasinghe ineligible to remain as a Parliamentarian while holding a dual citizenship.
Court held that under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, a dual citizen is not eligible to contest for Parliamentary membership and therefore Kumarasinghe no longer can function as a Parliamentarian.
Petitioners in their Writ application challenged her appointment and/or election as the Member of Parliament on her dual citizenship.
The Petitioners are W.W.E. Buweneka, J.K. Amarawardhana, A.C. Gunasekera, J.K. Wijesinghe and Prasanna Deepthilal. They cited Geetha Sammanmala Kumarasinghe, Controller of Immigration and Emigration, UPFA Secretary Prof. Vishwa Warnapala and the Secretary General of Parliament as Respondents.
The petitioners accused the appointment/election of Kumarasinghe to office of Member of Parliament contending that she is not de jure (legally) entitled to such appointment and/or election and holding the said office without authority.
Petitioners stated that Kumarasinghe is a holder of dual citizenship namely Sri Lanka and Switzerland and she had contested the 2015 Parliamentary election without divulging her dual citizenship at the time of submitting her nomination.
They claimed she by virtue of the Constitution was not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament and charged that she was thus a usurper of the authority of a Member of Parliament.
She had been declared as a Member of Parliament representing the UPFA from Galle District, they stated.
They sought the Court to issue a prerogative Writ Order requiring her to show by what authority she claims to hold office as a Member of Parliament and an another Order declaring that she is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold office as Member of Parliament.
J.C. Weliamuna appeared for the Petitioners. Manohara de Silva PC appeared for Kumarasinghe. Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva appeared for Controller of Immigration and Emigration, the Secretary General of Parliament and the Attorney General.
Geetha to appeal court ruling
MP Geetha Kumarasinghe said yesterday she would file a case in the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s ruling which deprived her from her seat in Parliament.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament on the basis that she holds dual citizenship. She said she hoped to continue as an MP until a decision was given by the Supreme Court following her petition.
“I’m not criticising the Court ruling but I regret it. I hope justice will prevail one day. I will seek further judicial assistance in this regard,” she added.