Clashes in the House: Speaker sends report to Attorney General | Sunday Observer

Clashes in the House: Speaker sends report to Attorney General

Two weeks after a Special Committee set up to investigate unprecedented violence and raucous behaviour in Parliament in November last year presented a damning report, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has forwarded the findings to the Attorney General for observations and decisions on whether to file legal action against lawmakers who have been found to be in breach of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

The Privileges Committee, chaired by Speaker Jayasuriya has decided to forward the report to the AG to initiate legal action against the offenders, a spokesman for the Speaker’s Office said. According to the Speaker’s media unit, the report will be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Department in the coming weeks.

The Privileges’ Committee recommended last Friday that legal action should be initiated against seven parliamentarians in connection with their unruly behaviour on November 14, 15 and 16 last year.

Action will be taken against members Johnston Fernando, Prasanna Ranaweera and Padma Udaya Shantha for obstructing the duty of the police, attacking police officers with a chair and causing injuries and for the chilli powder attack.

UNP MPs Ranjan Ramanayake and Palitha Thevarapperuma will be charged with brandishing a knife in the Chamber and criminal intimidation.

Parliamentarians Dilum Amunugama and Ananda Aluthgamage will be charged for incurring a loss of Rs 325,000 by damaging the microphone on the Speaker’s table.

Attorney General Jayantha Jaysuriya told the Sunday Observer that they are yet to receive a direction from Parliament and after perusing the documents it will be decided as to how the offences will be drawn up depending on the evidence. Although legal action is not considered for the remaining MPs, the Privileges Committee will take action to reprimand them on their conduct in the well of the House.

When MPs are found to have committed offences specified in Part A of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, an application can be made in the Supreme Court, by the Attorney General to take action against errant lawmakers. Before this application can be made, under Section 25 (1) (a) of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, the Attorney General must furnish a report to the President or the Speaker of Parliament, stating that in the opinion of the Attorney General, there is sufficient evidence to warrant taking further steps under the act.

Once Parliament considers the AG’s report, the House must by resolution call on the AG to make the application to Supreme Court.

The report which stated that 59 members had breached Parliament decorum was handed over to the Speaker on January 22.

Fifty-four MPs of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), four United National Party (UNP) parliamentarians and one MP of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna were held accountable.

State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake who declined to comment on this particular incident, said that he always acts in self-defence or is prepared to defend himself as one who is constantly being threatened. “I do not wish to harm others, but I always ensure that I defend myself. As a Minister who calls a spade a spade I have made more enemies, therefore I am always prepared,” he said.

Weighing in on the Parliamentary clashes report, UPFA Gampaha District MP Prasanna Ranaweera who has been named several times in the Report for serious breaches of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act continued to blame Speaker Jayasuriya for the sequence of events in November last year.

“We requested the Speaker to suspend sittings at the beginning, he didn’t do it,” said the MP who was caught on camera slapping a policeman and throwing chillie powder mixtures in the faces of parliamentary police protecting the Speaker on November 16, 2018.

“First, steps should be taken against the Speaker for creating such a pandemonium in Parliament. We had to resort to such unparliamentarily behavior for the sake of the country,” Ranaweera claimed. “We will fulfill our duty to the country, even if we have to go to jail,” he asserted.