AG evaluating legal action against Vijayakala | Sunday Observer

AG evaluating legal action against Vijayakala

The Attorney General’s Department is in the process of evaluating the legal action to be taken against former State Minister of Child Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran, who reportedly made a statement calling for an LTTE revival. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has been informed of this move. She was forced to resign her ministerial post on July 05 after facing a backlash from Joint Opposition (JO) politicians as well as the politicians from her own party after calling for the resurgence of the LTTE.

Highly informed sources said the Attorney General has reportedly advised the Speaker that if Parliament intends to take action against the MP, such action can be taken in accordance with the Standing Orders of Parliament. However, the AG’s Department is currently studying the reports from the Police investigation. The AG has informed the Speaker that it is up to the court to decide whether the MP has violated the Constitution.

The Speaker had informed the AG to investigate whether former State Minister Maheswaran’s controversial statement has violated the Constitution and to take necessary legal action. Earlier Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe requested President Maithripala Sirisena to temporarily remove Vijayakala Maheswaran from her ministerial portfolio until the inquiries into her controversial statement were completed. The UNP also appointed a four-member committee comprising Ministers Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Kabir Hashim and Thalatha Athukorale to look into the MP’s statement.

Under the 6th Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1983, if an MP violates his or her pledge to stand against separatism, they would lose their parliamentary seat. The example presented was that A. Amirthalingam who was the then Opposition Leader lost his parliamentary seat under this law. An MP loses his or her seat if found guilty of promoting separatism as per the 6th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in 1983 under which all MPs take an oath rejecting separatism. TULF MPs including the then Opposition Leader Amirthalingam lost their seats in 1983 following their refusal to take this anti-separatist oath.

An authoritative source confirmed that the Organised Crimes Prevention Division (OCPD) had recorded a statement from former State Minister Maheswaran on July 24 over a controversial speech made by her. She had been questioned for nearly four hours at her residence in Jaffna. MP Maheswaran resigned from her ministerial portfolio after a huge island wide outcry over her remarks. Meanwhile, the OCPD on August 10 had informed the Court that inquiries on MP Vijayakala Maheswaran’s controversial statement have been concluded and all reports have been submitted to the Attorney General’s Department. The OCPD had recorded 59 statements from six Ministers and MPs, 14 Government officials and 30 media personnel who were present during the event in Jaffna last month. All OCPD reports pertaining to the incident have already been submitted to the Attorney General and the court has been requested to fix a date for the next hearing until further instructions of AG are issued. Considering the facts presented, Colombo Chief Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake ordered the case to be taken up for hearing once again on October 19. The investigation by the OCPD began after the National Organiser of Sinhala Ravaya Ven. Magalkande Sudantha Thera lodged a complaint with regard to the former State Minister’s speech.

However, MP Maheswaran had recently told the media that she would “not succumb to others’ sentiments or pay a price that she is not entitled to settle with regards to her comments. She had said “I was born on Tamil soil and if the people from the South had lived with them, they will have the same sentiments I had expressed.” She had expressed how the Tamils lived during the tenure of the LTTE and how they are living now. She had said “we did not know what rape, child rape, drugs, molesting, sexual harassment, murder and robbery were but now it is ‘forced’ on us. If that expression is troublesome to others, that is not my fault.”

MP Maheswaran had noted her LTTE sentiments had triggered controversy but the same South embraced persons such as Karuna Amman, former Eastern Province Commander of the Tamil Tigers. “I stand by what I said and will not lose my dignity or respect by withdrawing the statement I made. Any action against me is welcome and I don’t fear it, but I will continue to do my work for the people who placed their trust in me.”

Meanwhile, UPFA Galle District MP Chandima Weerakkody told the Sunday Observer though the Joint Opposition (JO) also raised this issue in Parliament, the Speaker has not yet announced his stance to the House. The Speaker had also sought the advice of the Attorney General and he has already given his interpretation to the Speaker. If the Speaker alone cannot take a decision, he should refer the matter to Parliament without further delaying it.

MP Weerakkody who was also former Deputy Speaker, said, MP Vijayakala Maheswaran’s statement is a serious statement and the entire country is awaiting the steps to be taken against her. “This is an accepted law in the country. As Members of Parliament, we have taken an oath not to promote any racist sentiments or assist terrorism. We have taken an oath to protect the unitary status of the country. MP Maheswaran making such a controversial statement has breached parliamentary privileges. Therefore, the Speaker should take appropriate action regarding her conduct. It is up to the Speaker to determine whether the oath has been violated by her or not.” 

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