Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, yesterday (21), in writing, requested Director General Health Services and the Prisons Commissioner to make arrangements for SJB lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen, now in remand custody, to attend Parliament today (22). This follows a party leaders’ meeting, chaired by the Speaker. Earlier in the day, State Minister of Prison Reforms and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Sudharshini Fernandopulle said MP Rishad Bathiudeen, in remand custody, would be allowed to attend Parliament only after completing 14 days at a quarantine centre in keeping with the procedure adapted to keep prisons COVID-19 free. Responding to a query raised by Chief opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella why arrangements had not been made to enable Bathiudeen to attend Parliamentary sessions, the State Minister said there were over 30,000 remand prisoners at present and there were stringent measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that the necessary health procedures had to be followed before the detained MP was allowed to attend sittings.
When Opposition MPs queried how SLPP MP Premalal Jayasekera, who was in prison, had been allowed to attend sittings, Jayasekera said that he had been moved out of the prison and kept in quarantine for two weeks before being allowed to attend parliament sittings.