15 November, 2019

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Why Did The Attorney General Mislead The Speaker?

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Those supporters of the Yahapalana Regime whose apologies have diminished to the point they take refuge in what I call the ‘At Least Thesis’ in the now tired game of comparison, have rightfully found some fuel in the recent assertiveness of the Attorney General’s Department. The reference is of course to the uncompromising positions taken by Additional Solicitor General Dappula De Livera and Deputy Solicitor General Milinda Gunathilaka in questioning witnesses before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Central Bank bond issue scam.

What’s missing in the adoration is something, anything, on the highly irregular operations of the Attorney General himself. So when it comes down to it, the obvious courage, conviction and argumentative skill of subordinates have been deployed selectively, i.e. to attack a man who has by his own actions and words implicated himself. That’s Ravi Karunanayake.

The Attorney General, Jayantha Jayasuriya, stands accused of not just being negligent of responsibilities with respect to protecting the sovereign rights of the citizen but aiding and abetting an executive and legislative move to rob those very rights. The issue at hand is the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill, where Parliament enacted a law using an observation issued to the Speaker by the Attorney General.  

The Bill, as has been argued both in petitions challenging its constitutionality and in newspaper comment, sought to bypass a ruling of the Supreme Court and moreover violated established Parliamentary Procedure that clearly violated provisions to safeguard the people’s sovereignty. The text that was voted on was smuggled in at the 3rd reading and contains provisions that were not in the original bill. Moreover the smuggled version was not on the Order Paper and was not submitted to an Standing Committee or a Committee convened by the Speaker.  

What is appalling about the entire affair is the opinion expressed by the Attorney General. To support what has to be considered the will of the Government that sought to pass the bill in the first place, Jayasuriya has quoted Erskine May, the well-known authority on parliamentary practice. He claims that Erskine May had stated on page 547 of the 24th edition of his oft-quoted book ‘Parliamentary Practice’ “as in other matters of order, the admissibility of an amendment can ultimately be decided only by the House itself, there being no authority which can in advance rule an amendment out of order.”

The statement has at least a couple of riders. The first is ‘ultimately’ which implies that decision has to be preceded by deliberations which may include opinions from outside the House. The very fact that Jayasuriya was called upon to comment supports this thesis (as per functions detailed in Article 77 of the Constitution). The last part itself is open to multiple interpretation, i.e. the caveat regarding advance ruling. The ‘authority’ that can submit such a ruling is the Constitution and safeguards therein. 

The submission of former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva to the Supreme Court on this matter reveals two important facts. First, the quote used by Jayasuriya is NOT ON THE QUOTED PAGE. Second, as point out by Silva, Jayasuriya has (deliberately?) omitted the relevant caveats that May himself has couched the quoted statement in.  

In particular Jayasuriya has ignored the condition that amendments bought at any stage of the process should be within the framework of the original text and be relevant to the objectives therein. The original bill was about women’s representation but the amendments brought in late were irrelevant to this. It is strange indeed that Jayasuriya seems to have missed this.

Since he has quoted an authority, let us submit a rider imposed by another. Sir George John Bourinot, following May, opines that ‘The law on the relevancy of amendments seems now to be that if they are on the same subject-matter with the original motion, they are admissible, but not when foreign thereto.’   

As such, either the Attorney General is ignorant or mischievous, the evidence pointing to the latter rather than the former. At the end of the day the Speaker has been misled. 

The matter is in court. We can say ‘let the court decide,’ but let us interject a few observations about law-making in this country, in particular the strange behavior of those who held the office of Attorney General and Chief Justice.

Although it is common for lawyers to obtain from British parliamentary traditions and British legal system in general, there has been a scandalous reluctance to note the difference between Britain and Sri Lanka with respect to the separation of the Attorney General’s Department from the Courts. In Sri Lanka, unlike in Britain, senior members of the AG’s Department are ‘positioned’ in the courts, especially the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, those positioned thus are elevated to the post of Chief Justice. There have been cases where lawyers are elevated to the post of Attorney General and thereafter quickly shifted to the Supreme Court and then the position of Chief Justice.  

It is a well-established career path, one might say, but one which carries the requirement of affirming (as per Article 77) proposals for constitutional tinkering submitted by the executive. If the careers of judges in the Supreme Court are examined alongside the rulings they’ve made while in the Department and later as judges, an argument would probably arise for the separation of the two services, both which carry responsibility to the people.  

For now, this ‘history’ casts a shadow on every person appointed as Attorney General in terms of the well known dictum ‘justice should not only be done but seem to be done.’ If the case at hand raises suspicion, then among other things this history should to be blamed. Over and above all of this, the negligence of Attorney General Jayasuriya points to scandalous deceiving of the Speaker and demonstrates an unwillingness on his part to represent and act for the people in the Republic of Sri Lanka.

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. Email: malindasenevi@gmail.com

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Latest comments

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    I know the law by the Attorney General.

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      Malinda Seneviratne ,

      RE: Why Did The Attorney General Mislead The Speaker?

      Malinda Seneviratne, do you remember or can you recall the MIG deal whre Gotanaya RAjapaksa pocketted US $ 30 million and later killed Lasntha Wickramatunga and Ekliyadoda? You did not write anything then…..

      Anyway, there are rumors in the wine news that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to be arrested…. Can you write about this issue ., as a former and current shill of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Rajapaksa and others?
      Rajapaksa is expected to be arrested in relation to ongoing investigations over the controversial MiG aircraft deal.

      On July 26, 2006, the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) on behalf of the government signed an agreement with Ukrinmash (a Ukranian company) for the supply of four MIG 27 aircraft as well as the overhauling of four existing SLAF MiG 27 aircraft. Soon after, the government announced that the MiG 27s met with the specifications required for Ground Attack Fighters.

      Yet, close scrutiny of the agreement and the statements / events relating to the procurement revealed blatant irregularities and the manipulation of facts to conceal fraud and corruption.

      The purchase of four MiG-27 aircraft by the Defence Ministry in 2006 at a cost of US$ 2.462 million each and the procedure followed in relation to their purchase had been clouded in mystery till Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi, two key ministers who broke away from the Rajapaksa government, made a complaint to the Bribery Commission alleging corruption on the part of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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    Poor AG…….Please have mercy on him…..
    He has a missus and a few kids to feed and send to SAITM, ………
    May be the AG is not skilled and gifted with the gab , like Livera and his Team……..
    The Team can make a decent Quid easily by defending RK, AM, PM, Aloysious and even Samuel………
    That is .If Dr Ranil and Keselwatta Kid’s uncle sack them……..
    Can Sirisena give instructions to the AG to prosecute RK, AM , PM , AA and Sebastian?…………

    BTW, My Elders tell me Dr Ranil and Keselwatta Kid’s Uncle hand picked Pujithaya and gave him the IGP Gig……..Is it true ?………

  • 8
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    Malinda Seneviratne ,

    RE: Why Did The Attorney General Mislead The Speaker?

    Good Questions, but there are a lot of other good questions to ask as well, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, illegally occupied by the Paradeshis, Paras, foreigners, called Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils, Para-Muslims etc.

    Why did Mahinda Rajapaksa mislead the people?
    Why did Gotabaya Rajapaksa mislead the people?
    Why did Basil Rajapaksa mislead the people?
    Why did Yoshita Rajapaksa mislead the people?
    Why did Shiranthi Rajapaksa mislead the people?
    Why did Mahinda Rajapaksa and cronies mislead the people?
    Why did Mahinda Rajapaksa shills like Malinda Seneviratne, Dayan Jayatillaka and a host of others mislead the people?
    Why did Monk Mahanama in Mahawamsa with his lies and imaginations mislead the people?

    The Answer is blowin’ in the wind……. it is called SELF-INTEREST….one’s personal interest or advantage, especially when pursued without regard for others.

  • 2
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    What are you saying they are smply bulls in the china shop. Attorney General and CJ have been promoted just blindly. KAru Jayasooriya another wanna be who ever just sign it saying if it helping the governing party anything is Ok. So, Attoney General is blind, auditor general is blind and it is a mess. I herad even the minister responsble for the cetnral was was blind and a two corrupts – one former finance minister and another bank governor blind sided the dumb minister and that became another mess. Trillions are mssing and it looks it is moved over seas. Trillions may be because of thefts happened over the years.

  • 4
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    Thank you very much Malinda for educating the people about this gross betrayal of the people’s sovereignty by Jayantha Jayasuriya, the incumbent Attorney General, apparently seeking reciprocal treatment for favoring the Yahapalana clan with a promotion to the office of the Chief Justice after CJ Dep’s retirement next year.

    I have already charged this person for corruption for this day light robbery and the said action was initiated purely in the public interest with a sincere hope to restore the trust and confidence in the Office of the Attorney General by the people, a fundamental necessity to convey a message to any person appointed to the office of the Attorney General that he performs the office according to rules of reason and justice, and not according to the private opinion and that the executive power vested in the office of the Attorney General shall be exercised within the limits, which an honest person competent to discharge the office ought to confine, having in mind that the power conferred in the office solely to be used for the pubic good only, and not for the benefit of any other person in authority or the person holding the office which is held in trust for the public, to be exercised in good faith according the constitutional oath taken to be faithful to the Constitution and the law and perform the office honestly and faithfully, only upon lawful and relevant grounds of public interest, bearing in mind that the accountability of actions is certainly an important facet of good governance and is of paramount importance ensuring that the person holding the office of Attorney General does not abuse, misuse or overstep the powers he has been entrusted which shall only to be used for lawful purposes.

    The people of Sri Lanka should launch a relentless campaign demanding Jayantha Jayasuriya’s resignation from office forthwith for intentionally betraying the trust placed in the office.

  • 6
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    Dear Malinda,
    “The submission of former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva to the Supreme Court on this matter reveals two important facts. First, the quote used by Jayasuriya is NOT ON THE QUOTED PAGE. Second, as point out by Silva, Jayasuriya has (deliberately?) omitted the relevant caveats”
    You quote the notorious Sarath. N. Silva’s opinion on the matter. This is the same man who was found in a car cavorting with a woman, apologized publicly for letting MR off the hook on Helping Hambantota, and after all that has the nerve to don a white suit and preach Buddhism on TV.
    “supporters of the Yahapalana Regime whose apologies have diminished to the point they take refuge in what I call the ‘At Least Thesis’ .
    If you have to take refuge in an opportunistic scoundrel like Sarath N Silva, then Yahapalana supporters are perfectly justified in their stand, don’t you think?

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      This hymie crap piece is coming again, against Sinhala Buddhists who are fighting to protect their native land and historical ownership of their land. This shibboleth, coward hiding under a pseudonym (or 10) calling Sarath Silva an opportunistic scoundrel! The world knows he s a Galagedara crap eater whose pace maker is has only a few months left..

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        Hey Menna Aththa/ Lankaputhra/ Muttal Ganesan/ B. Winter,
        So this is your latest multiple personality, is it? Please give my regards to your lesbian partner and the other inmates of the asylum.
        I didn’t know it was possible to hide a Tab in your rear end. It must hurt so much when you take it out. Is that why you are grumpy?

  • 3
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    It is Colwin R De Silva who said in parliament that ” It is said that the law is an ass but I cannot help laughing when arses try to interpret the law”

  • 2
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    Come come Mr Seneviratne

    Misleading those in authority has been a national sport in our sunny blessed land for so long now it has become second nature. The higher you go the bigger the lie. These days nobody wants to tell the truth and break the curse. (Anika W told the truth, and see what happened to her).

  • 2
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    This is executive bribery system. Abolish executive system and also get rid of executive powers vested in any individual assole politician.

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    Malinda,
    You have to be careful, The lawyer mafia may try to prosecute you for disrespecting the courts.
    This filthy country is rotten to the core!

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      Why to be careful, Malinda himself has been an idiot has done nothing to make a change even if he is said to have completed his PGs at Harward ?

      An another so called colombo man, belonging to the category of Rajeewa Wijesinghe and Dayan Baluthilaka.

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    Thank you Malinda for exposing the bias of the AG . He,no doubt has to be dealt with severely for the criminal misuse of his position. Some of the idiotic comments on this thread shows that political bias and illiteracy go hand in hand.
    There are buthgottas still waiting with mouths open to devour a morsel of food at the cost of betraying future generations!

  • 1
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    Malinda Seneviratne has this question ~ “Why Did The Attorney General Mislead The Speaker?”
    Misleading the Speaker is part of governance. What is the issue here?
    When Gnanasaro (May his Mr Universe muscles increase) was on the run, the then Minister of Justice did not share the information he had on this matter with the Speaker!
    Misleading the house is accepted form of governance. Remember the disappearance of Prageeth? The UPFA’s Puttalam District Parliamentarian Arundika Fernando told Parliament (MR era) that Ekneligoda was living in France under disguise and that he met Prageeth..
    .

  • 0
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    Amarasiri,
    You are exposing yourself too much. Suggest you stick to current issues.

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      Carllion1

      “You are exposing yourself too much. Suggest you stick to current issues.”

      Just read what Malinda Sneveniratna, Mahinda Rajapaks Shill, from writing from 2010 to 2015. Then you will understand, about “current issues”, he is talking about today, when he did not talk about current issues then. Had he written the trutrh about MaRa and cronies, he would have faced the same fate as Lasantha Wicramatunga and Ekliyagoda.

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    M S.
    The average I Q in SL is 79 and anyone below 100 is considered an imbecile. The AG and the Speaker seem to belong to the latter category supported by the majority of the people.
    Hope that this explains the conundrum; learn to live with it.

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