High Court to decide on January 21 | Daily News


Revision petition against Rajitha’s bail order :

High Court to decide on January 21

The Colombo High Court yesterday fixed for January 21 to decide whether it issues formal notices on former Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne regarding a revision application filed by the Attorney General in connection with the controversial ‘White Van’ press conference.

When this revision application came up before Colombo High Judge Manjula Thillekaratne, both prosecution and counsel appeared on behalf of Rajitha Senaratne made oral submissions regarding notices. At the outset both parties raised no objection to hear this application before High Court Judge Manjula Thillekaratne.

In his oral submissions, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris appearing for the Criminal Investigations Department informed the court that the petitioner is challenging Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court order dated December 30, 2019 to grant bail to Parliamentarian Rajitha Senaratne.

He sought the High Court’s jurisdiction to revise the Chief Magistrate’s bail order since the Chief Magistrate had failed to call a medical report pertaining to Senaratne’s health condition.

‘The respondent had gone missing soon after an arrest warrant was issued against him on December 24. Then he secretly admitted to Lanka Hospital on December 26 and subsequently he received treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. The suspect purposely tried to evade the judicial process along with the hospital authorities, while not cooperating with the investigative officers,’ DSG Peiris added.

Peiris further complained that the Chief Magistrate had given an order to release the suspect on bail on an occasion where police have not recorded any statement from the suspect regarding the incident.

‘The Attorney General was compelled to file this revision application in order to convey a message among the public that law and order would be equally applied to everyone irrespective of their positions,’ he further said.

Meanwhile, DSG Peiris complained that former Minister Senaratne was the architect of this media conference and he had also provided the script for the press conference to other individuals. He further submitted to court that the suspect could be charged for committing a punishable offence under Presidential Election Act No 15 of 1981 for influencing a rival candidate’s vote base during the Presidential Election.

In reply, President’s Counsel Anil de Silva submitted to the court that all the allegations levelled against his client were bailable offences.

“My client had never evaded courts. He first filed an anticipatory bail application before the court. It was rejected owing to a technical issue. Once again he filed a fresh application seeking anticipatory bail. However, the CID had obtained a warrant for the arrest of my client while anticipatory application was about to hear on December 30. There is no secret that my client is a heart patient. He admitted to hospital for further cardiac evaluation test. Investigating the functions of the private hospitals and medical practitioners are vested with different authorities like Sri Lanka Medical Council. The court should examine whether the Chief Magistrate had acted in accordance with the bail act or not,” Mr. Silva added.

The Attorney General filed a revision application in the Colombo High Court challenging the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s order to grant bail to MP Rajitha Senaratne with regard to this press conference. In his application, the Attorney General is seeking an Interim Order to stay the bail order made by the Colombo Chief Magistrate on December 30 and commit the suspect to remand custody.

Former Minister Rajitha Senaratne was arrested in connection with organising the white van press conference on November 10 ahead of the Presidential election.

He was later released on two sureties of Rs.500,000 by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayarathne. In her bail order, the Chief Magistrate observed that according to the Criminal Procedure Code, the charges levelled against MP Senaratne were bailable offences.

Former State Pharmaceuticals Corporation Chairman Mohommed Rumi Mohommed Azeem and two other individuals, namely Sakalawalli Arachchige Sarath Kumara and Athula Sanjeewa Madanayake, who had allegedly been involved in the incident were also released on bail.

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