Request for immediate disciplinary action against chilli throwing JO members | Sunday Observer

Request for immediate disciplinary action against chilli throwing JO members

The Government and the JVP law makers on Thursday (November 07) in Parliament requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to take immediate action against the 54 Joint Opposition (JO) members who had been found guilty of the chilli powder attack in the well of the House during the 52 ‘political coup’ last year, even though a year has elapsed without disciplinary action being taken against them.

Chaos

Parliament descended into chaos on November 15, 2018 when some JO lawmakers threw books, chilli powder and water bottles at the Speaker to disrupt a second No Confidence Motion against the newly appointed Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The brawl in the Chamber came a day after a NCM was passed against the short-lived Rajapaksa Government. JO lawmakers grabbed the Speaker’s microphone, shortly after he declared that the country had no Government and that there was no Prime Minister as Rajapaksa lost a Parliamentary vote of confidence the day before. The violence followed shortly after lawmakers in the 225-member House reconvened following President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in October, 2018. Speaker Jayasuriya was escorted to the Chamber by Police after being blocked by a group of JO legislators. Riotous JO legislators then took away the ceremonial chair, but the Parliamentary staff provided an ordinary office chair as a makeshift arrangement. However, unruly JO members grabbed that chair too, breaking it into pieces and used them as projectiles to attack rivals and Police officers.

JVP law maker MP Bimal Ratnayake who raised a Point of Order in Parliament on Thursday (November 07) drew the attention of the Speaker that although an year has passed, no action has been taken so far against any of those JO MPs and urged the Speaker to take immediate action against them. The unruly behaviour of the JO members caused damage to some Parliament property while some JO MPs attempted to assault some Police officers who entered the Chamber to bring the situation under control.

MP Ratnayake said even some of the JO MPs who have been held responsible for the chilli power attack are in the list of MPs who chair the proceedings and added that it is a disgrace to be among such MPs.

Measures

The Speaker told the House that the relevant matter had been referred to the Attorney General’s Department and measures are being taken to initiate action against the perpetrators. The Speaker said that he has also referred the matter to the Privileges Committee to take appropriate action against those who breached the Parliamentary tradition.

Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that disciplinary action should be taken against all 54 JO MPs who resorted to that unpleasant incident and added that if no action is taken against them, the people will lose faith in the Parliamentary system. Minister Kiriella said everyone witnessed as to how those events took place in Parliament and the laws were breached by the JO law makers. Therefore, action should be taken against all those involved in the unruly incidents,” he said.

Meanwhile, JVP Parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti who also aired his views ,asked the Speaker if the House is waiting for the recommendations of the Attorney General to take action regarding the assault on JVP MP Vijitha Herath. The Speaker said that it was not he but the Police was handling the case of assaulting MP Herath.

Disrepute

UNP MP Prof.Ashu Marasinghe said that a year has elapsed since this incident took place and it has brought disrepute to the dignity and decorum of Parliament and has also left a black mark on the history of the Parliament. Prof.Marasinghe noted that all Parliamentarians will agree with him that such incidents should never be repeated. Hence, we need to pass a resolution to ensure that all those involved in this incident are punished. He said the action on the part of the Attorney General’s Department is a different matter. However, he questioned as to why no action has been taken so far on the recommendations made by the Committee headed by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri as this is a very serious issue which needs urgent attention. However, the Speaker assured that he would focus his attention on the matter and take necessary action.

Minister Ajith P.Perera said that this incident which took place during the 52 day ‘political coup’ last year carries criminal liability against those responsible, in addition to Parliamentary privileges being blatantly violated. Minister Perera said the Police has taken into consideration the criminal liability aspect and has notified the Attorney General.

There is concern that the AG’s Department is taking so long to act upon such an incident when they should give priority to it. The JO members had caused damage to Parliament furniture, slapped the Police officers and behaved violently and disruptively. This issue was also taken up for discussion at the Privileges Committee. Yet, priority has not been given to deal with this incident. This is not a healthy situation.

“Today, even school children who attend some TV programs are asking us as to why action has not been taken against these perpetrators either criminally or by Parliament when this incident was witnessed live by the entire world. As politicians, we are unable to give answers to these questions posed by school children. However, if we fail to provide answers, the dignity of Parliament will be at stake. Therefore, I urge that this matter should be given top priority in taking action against the culprits,” he said.

However, JO Parliamentarian Gamini Lokuge said on November 16, the people would take a decision as to who is right. Then Minister Ajith Perera queried whether MP Lokuge justifies the chilli power attack, breaking microphones and the throwing of the Bible at the Government members by JO members. Minister Perera said therefore, it would be very easy for the people to decide who is right and wrong.

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