By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Court of Appeal on 29 August deferred for today the decision to consider granting Gnanasara Thero permission to file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the sentence delivered against him by the Court of Appeal on 8 August.
The bench comprised Justices P. Padman Surasena (CA President) and Arjuna Obeysekera.
The Court of Appeal in its judgment on 8 August found Gnanasara Thero guilty of all four counts of Contempt of Court against him and sentenced him to 19 years’ Rigorous Imprisonment but ruled that these sentences are to run concurrently resulting in only six years’ Rigorous Imprisonment.
The judgment was delivered by Justice P. Padman Surasena (CA President) with Justice Shiran Gunaratne concurring.
The Court had noted that all the charges have been proven and he is guilty on all counts.
Court had been of the opinion that the Accused Respondent had made the utterances deliberately and that he stood up and addressed, demanding the release of an Accused Intelligence Officer who had been remanded before.
Court had sentenced him to four years’ Rigorous Imprisonment each for the first two counts and six years and five years for the other two counts, totalling 19 years’ Rigorous Imprisonment.
Court had also directed these sentences to run concurrently, resulting in six years’ Rigorous Imprisonment.
On 8 August, the Accused Respondent Gnanasara Thero was not present in Court. Manohara de Silva PC, appearing for him, told the Court that the Respondent got him admitted to the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital on 6 August as he developed pain in his stomach probably due to kidney trouble. He also told Court that he might have undergone surgery in one or two days if diagnosed.
Court had issued an order to the Superintendent of the Welikada Prison to take charge of the Accused Respondent forthwith and after the recovery proceed with the implementation of the sentence imposed against him.
Counsel Manohara de Silva had moved Court for time to consider the oral application for permission to appeal.
He cited Rule 22(1)(II) read with 23(3) and sought time for oral submission to consider the determination of the application. Court fixed the date for the purposed consideration for 29 August at 2.00 p.m.
Senior Counsel de Silva with Anusha Perusinghe appeared for Gnanasara Thero. Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appeared for the Attorney General as Amicus Curiae.
Homagama Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake filed Contempt of Court action in the Court of Appeal against the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary seeking the Appeal Court’s constitutional jurisdiction against his alleged offensive behaviour at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court amounting to Contempt of Court on 25 January 2016.
On 25 January, Gnanasara Thero began to address open court after the court hearing pertaining to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda was over. Later on, Gnanasara Thera was arrested by police on charges of contempt of court, obstructing Court proceedings and intimidating a public servant.
Through this contempt of court action, the Homagama Magistrate has sought the Appeal Court’s jurisdiction to consider whether the alleged offensive behaviour of Gnanasara Thera inside the Court amounts to contempt of court.
He had further sought the Court’s jurisdiction to take necessary legal action against Gnanasara Thera if the charges levelled against him amounted to contempt of court.
De Silva PC had appeared for the Accused Gnanasara Thero in the contempt of court proceedings.
Yesterday Rienzie Arasecularatne PC appeared for Gnanasara Thero. Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appeared for the Attorney General.