CA issues summons on Cabinet Minister for contempt

Friday, 27 July 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal yesterday issued a rule (charge) against the ruling UPFA Cabinet Minister Rishad Badiudeen for the alleged contempt of court in relation to the attack on the Mannar and District and Magistrates courts and intimidation of the judge Anthonypillai Judeson.

Acting President of the Court of Appeal W.L. Ranjith Silva observed that acting in terms of Article 105 (3) of the constitution as there is sufficient material to issue a rule against the Respondent Badiudeen to show cause as to why he should not be charged for contempt of court.

Justice Silva directed the Registrar of the Court to issue forthwith a rule together with the summons under Article 105 (3) of the constitution on the Respondent Badiudeen returnable for 5 September. On this date, he has to be present in court.

At this stage, President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva who appeared for the Petitioner lawyers reserved his right to move for an order to have the Respondent Badiudeen arrested and taken into custody and remanded, in case he, his agent or any other person n his behalf threatens, intimidates, use any undue influence or cause bodily harm to the Petitioners, Petitioners’ close relatives and witnesses or make any attempt to commit such act.

In addition to the submission made by the Counsel, the Court perused the several documents filed of record, particularly the complaint made by the Mannar Magistrate and the letter issued by the Judicial Service Commission in response to the letters addressed to them by the President of the Bar Association of Mannar and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, court noted there is a bearing and some significance to this matter.

Senior lawyers including the Mannar Bar Association and the Galle Law Association Presidents filed a Petition seeking the Court of appeal to punish the Badiudeen for contempt of court.

They instated these proceedings with a view to ensure that there will be no repetition by anyone of interference with proper functioning of the Courts, and also to ensure proper administration of justice.

They filed the petition through Lilanthi de Silva under Article 105 (3) of the Constitution which reads, “The Supreme Court of the Republic of Sri Lanka and the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall each be a superior court of record and shall have all the powers of such court including the power to punish for contempt of itself, whether committed in the court itself or elsewhere, with imprisonment or fine or both as the court may deem fit. The power of the Court of Appeal shall include the power to punish for contempt of any other court, tribunal or institution referred to in paragraph 1 (c) of this Article, whether committed in the presence of such court or elsewhere.”

Petitioners are President’s Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam, Dr. Sunil F.A. Cooray, Lal Wijeyanayake, Chandrapala Kumarage, Mannar Bar Association President E.C. Feldano, Galle Law Association President Nalani Kamalika Manatunga and President’s Counsel A.S.M. Perera.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva with President’s Counsel Ikram Mohamed, G.G. Arulpragasam, K.S. Ratnavale, J.C. Weliamuna, Sanjeeva Jayawardena, Saliya Peiris, Sugath Caldera, Kamran Aziz, Eraj de Silva, Gayan Matuwage, Senura Abeywardena and Milhan Mohamed instructed by Lilanthi de Silva appeared for the Petitioners.

Petitioners cited Badiudeen who is a Member of Parliament from Vanni Electoral District representing the United People’s freedom Alliance and a Cabinet Minister.

They asked the Court in the first instance to issue a rule on the Respondent directing him to show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt of court.

They are also asking the Court to punish him for the offence of Contempt of Court.

They state the Executive Committee of the Bar Association passed a resolution on 20 July and its expressed concern about the matter of incident in Mannar Courts which adversely affects the Independence of the Judiciary and undermines public confidence in the administration of justice.

On 16 July, a ‘B’ Report has been filed in Case Number B 396/2012 in the Magistrates Court of Mannar. The Magistrate had made the order dated 16 July and on 17 July, the Respondent telephoned the Magistrate and demanded that he reverse the said order.  On 18 July, the Magistrate had received a further call from the Respondent, at this time from a private number.

On 18 July, the Respondent had met the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission and requested that the Magistrate of Mannar be transferred forthwith. The Secretary of the JSC had prior to the dates material to this action had received a telephone call from the Respondent.

Petitioners allege that the aforesaid visit and communication with the Secretary of JSC is an interference with the due and proper working of the judiciary and/or of Court.  The actions of the Respondent is an interference with the due and proper process of Court, and is an affront to the Judiciary and to Court and an attempt to undermine the independence of the Judiciary and the authority of Court and the Judiciary.