A divided three-judge-Supreme Court bench yesterday granted special leave to appeal with a petition filed by Galle district parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe.
They also issued an Interim Order until the final determination of the petition, staying the operation of judgement made by the Court of Appeal which declared that Geetha Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold this office.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court fixed the matter for argument on September 25. The bench comprised Justice Eva Wanasundara, Justice Upali Abeyratne and Justice Anil Goonaratne.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for MP Geetha Kumarasinghe informed Court that Article 91(1) (d) (xiii) of the constitution does not apply to his client as she did not voluntarily apply for Swiss citizenship.
“She received Swiss citizenship upon her marriage in 1981. She got married to a Swiss citizen and automatically obtained Swiss citizenship,”Silva added.
He further said an order of Quo Warranto cannot be issued on a Member of Parliament but to a public officer.
However, President’s Counsel J.C.Weliamuna appearing on behalf of two Galle district residents raised a preliminary objection .
. Weliamuna further submitted to Court that at the time of handing over nomination, Geetha Kumarasinghe had given a false statement declaring that she is qualified to be a Member of Parliament. “She is still holding the dual citizenship. She has misled the party, people, parliament and Court as well. Following the Court of Appeal judgment, she has made statements that tantamount to contempt of Court of Appeal. The constitution is the supreme law of the country. It overrides other laws in the country. Every laws and institutions including parliament is bound by constitution,” Mr. Weliamuna added.
Senior Deputy Solicitor General Janak de Silva with Senior State Counsel Suren Gnanaraj appearing for the Secretary General of Parliament and Controller of Immigration and Emigration informed Court that a report submitted by the Department of Immigration and Emigration by August 26, 2015 had confirmed that the Geetha Kumarasinghe was holding dual citizenship. He further said Geetha has applied to be a Sri Lankan citizen in 2006 implying the fact that she purposely wanted to hold dual citizenship.
Counsel Chandaka Jayasundara with Pulasthi Rupasinghe appeared for the UPFA General Secretary.
Counsel Asela Rekawa appearing for the fifth respondent in the petition raised an objection to the appearance of President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva on behalf of Geetha Kumarasinghe citing that his client too consulted and obtaiuned the opinion ofSilva prior to the writ petition beingfiled in the Court of Appeal. He said counsel wasnow appearing for other party. Through an appeal petition, Galle District UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe sought an order to set aside the judgment dated May 3, 2017 by the Court of Appeal.
The petitioner had sought an Interim Order to stay the operation of the judgment made in the writ application bearing No.CA Writ 362/2015 by Court of Appeal.
In this petition, Geetha Kumarasinghe had cited N.W.E. Buwaneka of Beddegama, J.K. Amarawardhana of Yatalamatta, A.C. Gunasekara of Unawatuna, J.K. Wijesinghe of Ambalangoda and H.L.Prasanna Deepthilal of Galle, Controller General of Immigration and Emigration, the Secretary General of Parliament and several others as respondents.
Delivering its judgment on the writ petition filed by five residents of Galle district, the Court of Appeal on March 3 held that in terms of the Article 91(1) (d) (xiii) of the constitutionGeetha Kumarasinghe is not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament since she holds dual citizenship of Switzerland and Sri Lanka.
The Court of Appeal maintained that a report submitted by the Department of Immigration and Emigration by August 2015 had confirmed that Kumarasinghe was holding dual citizenship.