PCoI to rule on legal issues raised by lawyers

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) yesterday considered giving certain appropriate orders pursuant to a few legal issues raised by lawyers appearing for Central Bank’s former governor Arjun Mahendran, PTL owner Arjun Aloysius and PTL CEO Kasun Palisena.

President’s Counsel Kalinga Indatissa appearing for Mr. Palisena drew attention to the legal powers vested in the commission to call for material belonging to individuals for investigation. He said the PCoI had no power to do so under the provisions contained in the mentioned Acts.

He also questioned the legality of the engagement of the officials at Attorney General’s Department in the bond sale inquiry, because it was not a normal court of law.

There was another legal issue raised by Counsel Chanaka de Silva, who appeared for Mr. Mahendran on whether a representative should be allowed when experts extract information from the devices handed over to the Commission.

However, there was an issue of what was the best practice in such instance in the criminal justice process. ASG Yasantha Kodagoda submitting some international references said there was no practice of allowing outsiders when experts extract information from case productions.

The Commission also allowed Mr. Mahendran’s counsel to submit his stance on the matter and subsequently reserved the order.

Meanwhile, President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne who appeared for Arjun Aloysius requested the commission to furnish a copy of the all matters extracted from his client’s phone.

ASG Kodagoda drew the Commission’s attention to the fact that the extraction of the data was not completed because they were facing the difficulties in the absence of the Apple phone password.

The PCoI said the copies would be made available no sooner the extraction of the required information was completed. ASG Dappula de Livera said they were still at the initial stages of investigating whatever was extracted.

Raising objections on the extracted details presented on August 2, in relation to Mr. Aloysius’ mobile phone, Mr de Silva said the manner in which such details were presented when Minister Ravi Karunanayake was testifying.

However, the Commission was of the view that the details relating to Mr. Aloysius’ phone were subject be proved and if parties mentioned in those details denied them then the Attorney General’s Department had to prove its credibility.

ASG de Livera said the authenticity of the details has to be proven and that is why the messages extracted from Mr. Aloysius’ phone in reference to “RK and Ravi K” were presented to the Minster the other day.

The ASG said if the Minister had accepted them then the authenticity of the extraction would have been proved. He said they will prove the credibility of the details in due course.

“The Commission yesterday also ascertained that it had given a two fold order earlier over Aloysius’ apple account.

The order says, that the Commission is not satisfied that the provisions of the Commission of Inquiry Act no.17 1948 provides to issue an order prohibiting Mr. Aloysius from “accessing” his apple ID or apple account, since they are personal property of the individual and therefore the Commission should give due regard to the right of a person to access his property.

However, the order says the position is different with regard to the second request made by ASG Yasantha Kodagoda, which is to prohibit Mr. Aloysius from tampering with or altering the data in the apple account.

The Commission was of the view that the mobile phone belonging to Mr. Aloysius was duly produced to the Commission and now it is in its custody. On that circumstance the commission has a power to ensure an item in the custody of the Commission is not tampered with or altered because the data in the apple account is integral to the mobile.

Thereby the order issued on August 3 was delivered only prohibiting Mr. Aloysius from tampering with or altering in any manner, the data in that apple account, and prohibiting his agents or others acting on his behalf from doing so.

Referring the provisions of sections 201 of chapter XI of the penal Code read with section 9 of the Commission Act, the Commission had mentioned that any act which could make causing destruction or rendering illegible such data before the Commission would be an offence punishable with a term of imprisonment.

Thereby, the commission had warned Mr. Aloysius over any act on his part which attempts to or commit may result in the commission of an offence and consequently it may result of taking appropriate criminal proceedings against him”

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