Controversial judge Deepali Wijesundera today withdrew herself from the bench hearing the case challenging the parliamentary seat of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, citing “personal reasons.”
Shermila Gonawala, a Rajapaksa supporter and the Co-President of ‘Women for Justice’ filed a Quo Warranto petition in the Court of Appeal claiming that Ranil Wickremesinghe is a shareholder of a private company that entered into agreements with the government institutions and therefore he had no right to function as a parliamentarian.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and the Secretary-General of Parliament are among the four respondents named in the petition. The petitioner, in her petition, claimed that Wickremesinghe is a shareholder of Lake House Printers and Publishers PLC that is engaged in business activities with the Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank.
President Maithripala Siriena repeatedly attempted to appoint Wijesundera as the Chairperson of the Court of Appeal. She is known to be a judge who maintains close ties with the Rajapaksa family. The Constitutional Council, however, shot down Sirisena’s attempts to appoint Wijesundara as the head of the Court of Appeal.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Prime Minister, serves as a member of the Constitutional Council. Informed sources said this could be why Wijesundera decided to withdraw herself from hearing the petition challenging the parliamentary seat of the Prime Minister.