Speaker maintains stand on Ranjan Ramanayake

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena today (10) maintained his stand with regard to imprisoned Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Ranjan Ramanayake.

Addressing Parliament today, Opposition and SJB Leader MP Sajith Premadasa questioned the Speaker as to why MP Ramanayake was not permitted to attend parliamentary sittings.

He accused the Speaker of not allowing the Opposition to submit a motion on behalf of Ramanayake.

Premadasa said the Speaker’s actions were against parliamentary traditions and accused him of turning a blind eye to the issue, despite the Court instructing Parliament to refrain from taking any action with regard to MP Ramanayake’s Parliament seat.

He said, based on the court order, it was the legal responsibility of the Speaker to allow MP Ramanayake to attend parliamentary proceedings.

The Opposition Leader called out the Speaker for obstructing the party from submitting the motion under a standing order, accusing him of acting in an impartial manner.

He further questioned as to what right the Speaker had to reject a request put forth by the judiciary.

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena thereafter intervened, informing Parliament that the Opposition Leader’s questions cannot be raised during today’s session, as it is not included in the agenda.

He pointed out that Premadasa was raising questions on other matters at a time when the debate on the report on the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks is about to commence.

Gunawardena charged that this may be an attempt by the Opposition to sabotage the debate on the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI).

Meanwhile, responding to Premadasa’s comments, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said the matter raised by the MP is currently before courts.

He said it is believed that the Supreme Court will issue its verdict on Ramanayake’s parliamentary seat by the end of this month.

The Speaker requested the Opposition Leader to wait until the verdict is delivered, adding that there was time to resolve the issue as the time frame to decide on MP Ramanayake’s parliamentary seat concludes in April.

He further explained that as the Speaker, he is unable to reach a decision in this regard, as MP Ramanayake has been convicted by the Supreme Court and has been imprisoned without bail.

Speaker Abeywardena said there was a legal issue in allowing an imprisoned MP without clearance for bail to attend parliamentary proceedings.

Pointing out that MP Premalal Jayasekara, who was convicted of murder, was allowed to attend Parliament, he said this was due to the MP being imprisoned as a remand prisoner and was permitted by court to apply for bail.

The Speaker of the House said therefore, due to this legal issue with regard to Ramanayake’s parliamentary seat, Parliament will be required to wait until the Court delivers its decision in order to announce its stance. (Colombo Gazette)