*Rajitha, Arjuna, Anura, and state counsel raise objections
*Commission will hear case; take concerns to SC, says PCoI Chair
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing allegations of political victimisation during the former Government decreed that it had decided that the complaint of the Avant Garde Group Chairman came within its mandate, despite the latter not being a public official.
PCoI Chair former Supreme Court Justice Upali Abeyratne asserted that the Commission had already decided that it indeed has the jurisdiction to investigate the complaint lodged by Avant Garde Chairman Maj. (Rtd.) Nissanka Senadhipathi, before commencing hearings.
“The Commission deliberated on the matter at the beginning and we decided that the complaint by the Avant Garde Chairman came within the ambit of the Commission. Only thereafter did we begin hearing the case,” Abeyratne said, adding that if anyone had concerns regarding this matter, they could take it up at a higher court of law such as the Supreme Court (SC).
The Commission made this declaration in response to arguments raised by the various counsels present to represent former Ministers Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Arjuna Ranatunga, and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who were present before the Commission as respondents.
Upul Jayasuriya PC and Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara Tennakoon were also present as respondents.
Counsels for the respondents argued that according to the Gazette notification which was published to establish the PCoI, its scope only stipulated the hearing of complaints lodged by public officials or members of the tri-forces who had been politically victimised, and that the Avant Garde Chairman, being a private individual, could not be considered a public official, and his complaint didn’t come under the mandate of the PCoI.
Senior State Counsel Bandara Tennakoon, at this point, requested the bench to either accept or reject the claim of the counsels that the Commission had gone beyond its scope so that the respondents could seek further legal recourse at a Court of Appeal.
However, the Chair refused to do so.
“I have very clearly stated our position and that we had taken a decision on the matter before beginning proceedings. Now, we are at the end of the hearings,” Justice Abeyratne said.