Naming President in petition: SC calls for written submissions

Golden Key case



By Chitra Weerarathne


A five-Judge bench of the Supreme Court yesterday gave parties time till Nov. 10, 2014 to file written submission as regards whether the Supreme Court could consider Article 35 of the Constitution along with Article 126 (4) of the fundamental rights chapter to allow the discharge of a respondent who had been unduly made a respondent in a fundamental rights violation application filed before court. This was said when the fundamental rights violation application filed by the aggrieved depositor of the Golden Key Credit Card Company was called before the court yesterday.


Romesh de Silva PC, who appeared for the former Chairman of the Ceylinco Group of Companies, said that the petitioner had named Preside Mahinda Rajapaksa as a respondent in the petition. The Counsel said Article 35 gave the President legal immunity and be could not be named in a petition and that petition should be dismissed by the court.


Counsel Faiz Mustapha PC, who appeared for some other directors made respondents, also objected to the petition on the grounds that Article 35 of the Constitution had been breached counsel, Hijaj Hisbullah, who appeared for the aggrieved depositors of the Golden Key Credit Card Co. Pvt Limited. The latter said that the petition had been heard for five years in the Supreme Court and several orders made. He said that the petitioners had said that the President was the Minister of Finance and that relief had been sought against the Minister of Finance.


Counsel Hisbullah added that it is bad for the public image of the Bar and Courts to let the public get the impression that it took five long years of inquiry to raise preliminary objections on the basis of presidential immunity.


Rs. 26 billion belonging to the petitioner had been lost. Some depositors had even committed suicide when their money was not returned. Counsel said that the Supreme Court had the power to allow the discharge of the unwanted respondent and carry on with hearing the case for the benefit of the depositor.


He added that the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka was the first respondent. It was a legal entity. Relief could be sought against it.


The Deputy Solicitor General Viran Dayaratne appeared for the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka and the Attorney General. He conceded that Article 35 gave the President legal immunity for some act done in his capacity as a Minister and the Attorney General may be named in that place. The court was attempting to work out a settlement to help the depositor. The Attorney General always welcomed a settlement which helped the depositor.


Romesh de Silva PC said that the petitioners in their statement of objections had said that the President could not be named and that the petition should be dismissed.


The case will be called again on Nov. 13, 2014.


The bench comprised Justice K. Sripavan, Justice Eva Wanasundera, Justice Rohini Marasinghe, Justice Buwenaka Aluwihara and Justice Sisira de Abrew.


The Court will give the order on the preliminary objections after the filing of the written submission.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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