By Kusal Perera –
(Personal address deleted)
25 December, 2012
Mr. Chamal J. Rajapaksa,
Hon. Speaker of the Parliament,
Office of the Speaker of Parliament,
Regarding Declaration of Assets & Liabilities – Members of Parliament
First and foremost, I wish to convey my appreciation to all 117 Members of Parliament who wittingly or unwittingly placed their signatures to the petition calling for the impeachment of the Chief Justice, Dr. Ms. Shirani Bandaranayake, wherein they have raised the issue of annual “Declaration of Assets and Liabilities” which is also equally applicable to all 225 Members of Parliament. They therefore now have to answer my questions, on their own declarations of assets and liabilities as Members of Parliament since May 2010.
The law says, any and all Members of Parliament who have not declared assets and liabilities can not function, sit in parliamentary sessions and vote. They could also be prosecuted against, for violation of law, in any Magistrate’s Court. I do therefore appreciate your statements made on the strict adherence to Constitutional requirements in parliamentary conduct by all Members and would stress, it is your obligation and responsibility to ensure that only Members who have submitted their annual declarations on assets and liabilities to you, who would participate in the day to day functioning of parliament.
For your easy reference, let me refer to sections of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities (Amendment) Act No. 74 of 1988, that is relevant and which applies to Members of Parliament and to your office as Speaker of Parliament.
Section 2 (1) (a) very clearly says that provisions of this law shall apply to all “Members of Parliament”. It then says, under Section 3 (1) that assets and liabilities of the MP, his or her Spouse’s and that of the children should be declared. All candidates for LG, Provincial, Parliamentary and Presidential elections, are expected to hand over the declarations at the time of nominations, to the Commissioner of Elections and where such compliance have not been made, if elected, Members (of parliament) should hand over their declaration of assets and liabilities to the Speaker of Parliament under Section 4.(b).
The amended Section 3 also states, “….a person to whom this law applies referred to in paragraph (dc) of sub section (1) of Section 2 shall be deemed to have complied with the provisions of this sub section if he makes a declaration of his assets and liabilities as at the date of nomination as a candidate for election under any of the Acts referred to in that paragraph on the date of such nomination or before he functions, or sits, or votes….” in parliament, as relevant to this letter. This essentially means, all Members have to submit their first declaration on assets and liabilities, latest at the time of their swearing in as members of parliament, to be sworn in as a MP. Thereafter they have to continue declaring their assets and liabilities annually, before every 31st day of March, every year.
“Assets and liabilities” have been defined under Section 12 of this law as, “assets and liabilities in and outside Sri Lanka, and includes movable and immovable property”.
This law also says, under Section 9 (1) that any person who fails to declare assets and liabilities without reasonable cause, makes false statement or contravenes any provision of this law, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after trial before a Magistrate be liable to a fine not more than one thousand rupees or imprisonment of either description not more than a year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
The legal right for any citizen to access such information as declared in a statement of assets and liabilities submitted to the relevant authority, is given in Section 5(2)(3) as. “Any person shall on payment of a prescribed fee to the appropriate authority, have the right to call for and refer to any declaration of assets and liabilities and on payment of a further fee to be prescribed, shall have the right to obtain that declaration.”
On that provision, as the appropriate authority in the parliament, I wish to first have your early answers to the questions below.
- Have all those 117 MPs who signed the petition handed over to you on 01 November, 2012 to impeach CJ Bandaranayake, declared their assets and liabilities on or before they were sworn in parliament as Members, after the parliamentary elections held in April, 2010 and if all have not, how many of them have done so ? Can you please provide the 02 name lists of those who have declared and those who have not ?
- How many out of the 11 (eleven) Members who sat as the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to investigate the impeachment motion, have declared their assets and liabilities and if any have not, who are they ?
- How many Members of Parliament from the 225 sworn in, have handed over their declaration of assets and liabilities annually, as required by law and can you please provide the 02 name lists of those who have done so and those who have not ?
- Will you as Speaker ensure that it would be only Members who have declared their assets and liabilities according to law, who would be allowed to debate the impeachment report handed over to you on 08 December, 2012 ?
- What is the prescribed fee to obtain a copy of a declaration of assets and liabilities of a MP and to whom should that fee be paid to ?
I wish I could have made this request more brief for your convenience, but, as I intend to make this available in the public domain, I believe all relevant details as regards declaration of assets and liabilities needs to be included for the benefit of those who wish to have them.
Shall expect an early response from you to all my above queries.
Yours most sincerely,
C.c – to all media institutes and organisations