When the `Helping Hambantota` account fundamental rights petition was taken up yesterday, the Chief Justice made an observation that the normal process was not followed in commencing the investigation and said that it cannot be deviated from the protection of the law.
He said that in the ?B? report, Mahinda Rajapakse was named but his statement had not got recorded.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices Shiranee Tilakawardane and N.E.Dissanayake. Written submissions are to be submitted within one month and the order was reserved.
Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa`s fundamental rights petition alleging that the complaint to the CID that he had committed offences of criminal breach of trust by misappropriating Rs. 82,958,247 in creating the ?Helping Hambantota? Account had no basis to launch an investigation was taken up before the Supreme Court yesterday (17).
Petitioner cited IGP Chandra Fernando, DIG Lionel Gunatilake, Police Inspector P.Ampavila of the CID, Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim and the Attorney General as respondents.
In his petition, President Rajapaksa inter alia states that immediately prior to his nomination as the Presidential candidate of the SLFP, the opposition controlled private media obviously for political and other collateral purposes launched a vicious and malicious campaign to implicate him in a purported transaction wherein it was alleged that the Prime Minister`s Office had acted in contravention of Government Regulations and transferred certain funds received for the Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Effort, into his private bank account.
He contends that these allegations levelled against him at the instance of those with vested political interests were completely false and mala fide and had been leveled against him for the singular purpose of tarnishing his image and thereby gaining undue political advantage.
On December 28, 2004 tremendous devastation and destruction were caused to the country by the tsunami. As the President, Chandrika Kumaratunga was overseas when the tsunami reached the shores of the country, the petitioner maintains that he was required to instantly take on the leadership role of the immediate relief operations.
He on one hand as the Prime Minister led the overall national relief operation and on the other, as an elected Member of Parliament for the Hambantota District was required to oversee the relief operation there, he states.
He further states that a Special Centre for Tsunami Relief Operations was established at Temple Trees, the official residence of the Prime Minister, to facilitate the relief operations under his direct supervision and guidance.
As there was no special bank account opened by the government for the tsunami relief operations at that time, he directed the official Secretary to the Prime Minister, Lalith Weeratunga, to deposit all such donations into the official bank account of the Secretary to the Prime Minister.
He states that many made donations and while formally handing over their donations to him, requested him to utilize the said donations specifically in Hambantota and that later the Hambantota Tsunami District Relief and Development Programme known as ?Helping Hambantota? Programme was launched under the auspices of the Rajapaksa Memorial Education and Social Services Foundation on July 19, 2005.
4th respondent Kabir Hashim MP made a complaint to the CID alleging that the petitioner had committed offences of criminal breach of trust/misappropriation. by misappropriating Rs 82,958,247 in allocating the said sum to the ?Helping Hambantotal? Account.
He alleges that the conduct of the respondents is arbitrary, capricious and mala fide and is in violation and/or imminent violation of his fundamental rights to equality and equal protection of the law and violation and/or imminent violation of his fundamental right not to be discriminated on the ground of political opinion.
President`s Counsel D. S. Wijesinghe with Sanjeewa Jayawardane appeared for the petitioner. President`s Counsel Tilak Marapana appeared for the 4th respondent. Deputy Solicitor General Palitha Fernando with State Counsel N.D.P.Nawana appeared for the Attorney General.