Minister of Plantations Lakshman Kiriella completely put the defense against the Fundamental Rights Petitions filed by Basil Rajapaksa and three others in disarray by appointing two Counsel on his behalf for the cases.
Darmawardena had made submissions for over half an hour, completely unrelated to the legal matters that were being taken up, and the objections that were taken in unison by the Respondents including those of the AG’s department.
When the matter was taken up yesterday, both Saliya Peiris and Kolitha Darmawardana PC appeared on behalf of Kiriella for the separate cases although all cases were heard together.
Peiris had continuously represented Kiriella since the filing of the Petition and the new addition Darmawardena made his first cameo appearance.
Peiris represented Kiriella for all four Petitions on previous hearings until Darmawardena appeared yesterday.
The legal fraternity points out that there was no need for two Counsel at all because it was the same subject matter that was being argued in all four Petitions. Therefore all four Petitions were taken for hearing together and not separately.
Every other Respondent had only a single counsel representing them throughout.
The move was unprecedented and drew confusion among the Judges and the Counsel who represented the Attorney Generals Department and the other Respondents.
Chief Justice Sripavan infact pointed out that the move was unprecedented, while Romesh De Silva PC appearing on behalf of Rajapaksa said it was a “joke, never seen before”.
Earlier, the Respondents which included the cabinet of Ministers and the AG’s department took up a strong position against the Petition filed by Rajapaksa and the three others, saying that the facts contained do not fall within the ambit of a “breach of a Fundamental Right”.
This was in sharp contrast to the lakckadaisical approach taken by the AG’s department when the Interim Relief for Gotabaya Rajapaksa was granted.
In that case, the Arjun Obeysekara DSG made a complete mess of the defense, by ignoring the addressing of the interim relief that was sought for. This resulted in both the interim relief being granted and the AG’s department having to go before the Supreme Court again to seek clarification regarding the interim relief which was so granted.
During yesterdays hearing the team led by DSG Viraj Dayarathne and other private counsel for the Respondents also said that the FCID functioning in and under the purview of the IGP and was not a seperate unit altogether.
While the submissions for the Respondents were building up, none of those present in Court 502 were expecting the ‘stunt’ performed by Darmawardena.
Having informed the Judges that he had to leave court in the afternoon, he took centre stage and completely warped the arguments that were carefully addressed by the other counsel for the Respondents.
Saliya Peiris looked thoroughly embarrassed, with other Counsel including Viraj Dayarathne portraying anger and disappointment at the complete jeorpadising of the case.
Daramawardena spoke for a painstaking half an hour before taking his seat by the time which the build up for the defense was in tatters.
Thereafter submissions went on till 2.30 PM, but the damage inflicted on a well tailored out case was too severe to mend resulting in Leave to Proceed being granted for all four Petitions.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice K. Sripavan, Priyasath Depp and Rohini Marasinghe.