CA quashes Jaffna Magistrate’s summons on President | Daily News

CA quashes Jaffna Magistrate’s summons on President

The Court of Appeal yesterday issued an order quashing the Jaffna Magistrate’s decision to issue summons on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa requiring him to appear before Jaffna Magistrate’s Court as a witness in connection with the Habeas Corpus inquiry.

Court of Appeal President Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna made this order taking into consideration the preliminary objections raised by counsel who appeared on behalf of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Upholding preliminary objections raised by the petitioner (President Rajapaksa), the Court of Appeal observed that a Magistrate cannot mechanically issue summons on any person on a request of a party to be present to administer evidence.

With the reviewing of Jaffna Magistrate’s decision through a writ of certiorari, President Rajapaksa will not be required to attend Jaffna Magistrate’s Court in terms of the summons issued to the Petitioner.

The Court of Appeal also held that, in terms of the provisions of the Constitution a person holding the office of the President is constitutionally immuned from being made part of any civil or criminal proceedings and thus the Petitioner who is the incumbent President cannot be compelled to attend court through summons.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for the petitioner informed the Court of Appeal that summons issued by Jaffna Magistrate’s Court requiring President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appear before Jaffna Magistrate’s Court, cannot be maintained since he holds the post of President in the country.

At that time, Senior State Counsel Wasantha Perera appearing for the Attorney General had informed that the President was immune to judicial process in terms of Article 35 (1) of the Constitution.

However, Counsel Nuwan Bopage appearing for the respondents had informed the Court of Appeal that there is no constitutional barrier to summon the President as a witness in a fact finding inquiry.

On September 24, 2019, Court of Appeal had issued an Interim Order staying summons requiring then presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court on September 27, 2019. The Court of Appeal had made this order pursuant to a petition filed by him citing urgency and security reasons.

In his petition, Rajapaksa stated that he received summons through Magistrate’s Court of Jaffna to attend and given evidence in connection with the Habeas Corpus inquiry. The political activists Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan went missing on December 9, 2011.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva with counsel Sugath Caldera, Harith De Mel, Ruwantha Cooray under the instructions of Counsel Sanath Wijewardana appeared for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.