The Supreme Court today held that proceedings in respect of several Fundamental Rights petition filed over Easter Sunday attacks cannot be continued against President Ranil Wickremasinghe at this stage.
Supreme Court seven-judge-bench headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya observed that prohibition against continuation of proceedings against an incumbent President has been imposed for the common good of the affairs of the State.
While delivering the order, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya with other judges agreeing interpreted the Article 35 of the Constitution and held that the immunity conferred thereby applies in favour of President Ranil Wickramasinghe and therefore the fundamental rights petitions cannot be continued against President Ranil Wickramasinghe.
“It is important that the head of state has to be freed from any form of harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the performance of his official duties and functions this contextual approach to the words of Article 35 (1) is consistent with the spirit of the Constitution”, Supreme Court held.
Counsel Suren Fernando appearing for President Ranil Wickremasinghe had earlier made an application to discharge his client from the twelve Fundamental Rights petitions filed over Easter Sunday attacks, based on the Article 35(1) of the constitution.
While passing the order, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya observed that no proceedings shall be instituted or continued against the President, during his tenure of office and except for the exceptions that have been specifically provided for in the first proviso and Article 35(3), the constitutional embargo that proceedings that commenced before the election of the President cannot continue must be enforced.
The Supreme Court further held that proceedings have to continue against former President Maithripala Sirisena because there was no immunity that attached to him even when the proceedings began. The court is of the view that there is no immunity that inures to former President Sirisena now and these proceedings need to continue against him.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena through his lawyer had informed Supreme Court that presidential immunity is not applicable to incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding the acts done in his capacity as the Prime Minister .
Twelve petitioners including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka are pleading an order to prosecute those who directly or indirectly responsible for terrorist attacks. They are also claiming compensations for the victims of the terrorist attacks.
The Supreme Court seven-judge-bench compromising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, L.T.B. Dehideniya, Murdu Fernando, S. Thurairajah, A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Shiran Gooneratne fixed the petitions for argument on September 29.
Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC, Saliya Saliya Peiris PC, Manohara De Silva PC, Senior Counsel Gamini Perera, Darshana Weraduwage and Chrishmal Warnasuriya appeared for the petitioners.
Senior Additional Solicitor General Priyantha Nawana appeared for the Attorney General. Faizer Musthapa appeared for former President Mathripala Sirisena.
Counsel Suren Fernando appeared for President Ranil Wickramasinghe.
Shammil Perera PC with Counsel Varuna Senadhira and Duthika Perera appeared for the Archbishop of Colombo