Conviction of Gnanasara Thera for Contempt : Supreme Court upholds Appeal Court judgement | Sunday Observer

Conviction of Gnanasara Thera for Contempt : Supreme Court upholds Appeal Court judgement

The Supreme Court unanimously refused to grant leave to proceed with the special appeal filed before it on Friday by Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary, Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera.

The action was instituted against the Court of Appeal Judgment given by Justices Preethi Padman Surasena and Shiran Goonaratne convicting the thera for contempt of court and sentencing him to a total of 19 years on four charges to be served concurrently in six years.

Accordingly, his conviction and sentencing imposed by the Court of Appeal for contempt of court is affirmed and upheld by the Supreme Court.

The matter was taken up before the bench comprising Justices Eva Wanasundara, Nalin Perera and Prasanna Jayawardana PC.

Rienzie Arsekularatne PC appeared for Gnanassara Thera and submitted that his client’s sentencing to six years imprisonment is a very excessive punishment.

Counsel cited the case of Parliamentarian S.B. Dissanayake where very insulting words against the Supreme Court were used, but his sentence was for only two years. Justice Perera then mentioned that the particular incident took place outside the courts’ premises.

In reply counsel Arsekularatne stated that in the case of S. B. Dissanyaka the phrase ‘Balu Thinduwa’ (dog’s decision) was used.

Justice Perera then reiterated that his client used the abusive words inside the court and while the court was in session.

“It is indeed evident that my client spoke inside the court with permission of the court. This matter should be considered according to the count and words he used,” counsel said.

He further stated that this whole incident took place at the Magistrate’s Court and comparing those facts with his client’s, the sentence was evidently excessive.

“This is not a matter to be dealt with in the Court of Appeal.

The Judicature Act gives the power to act on such contempt of court matters in the Magistrates Courts and District Courts.

Charges against my client are very defective; there are four charges against him. The incident occurred in the Magistrate’s Court and inquiry against him was taken in the Court of Appeal.

It is not the proper forum to take up such matters.”

Senior Deputy Solicitor General (SDSG) Rohantha Abeysuriya representing the State in reply said “He insulted the state counsel assisting the court at the time using very derogatory words.

This case against the respondent was taken up in the Court of Appeal. It is empowered by the Article 105 (3) of the Constitution. It is not confined to any court; it empowers any court to deal with contempt matters,” SDSG Rohantha Abeysuriya informed the Court.

He further stated that respondent’s behaviour inside the court at that time affects the dignity of the court and that it was an unprecedented incident.

“The public of this country highly respects our judiciary. Respondent disrupts the court and did what he wanted to without any respect to the Court.

Considering all these facts the six year prison term is not excessive and is taken in the proper forum exercising proper jurisdiction,” Abeysuriya said.

On January 25, 2016, Ven. Gnanasara Thera began to address the Homagama Magistrate in open court, while the court was in session after the court hearing pertaining to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda was over.

The thera was arrested by police on charges of contempt of court, obstructing court proceedings and intimidating a public servant.

The Homagama Magistrate had sought the Appeal Court’s jurisdiction to consider whether the alleged offensive behavior and utterance of Gnanasara Thera inside the court amounts to contempt of court.