Attorney General Dappula De Livera yesterday informed the Commission of Inquiry (COI) looking into political victimisation that it has no mandate to issue summons or notice on officials of the AG’s Department and such action by the COI is contrary to law and invalid.
The AG wrote to the Chairman of the COI Retired Judge of the Supreme Court Upaly Abeyrathne taking objection to the summons and notice dated 17 June served on Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara in terms of section 16 of the COI Act in relation to the performance of his functions in the Avant Garde Arms Trafficking case
In response, the AG said that the mandate granted to the Commission does not extend the scope of the inquiry of the Commission to involve the AG and his officers. Contents of the letter were released by the AG ‘s office.
De Livera said in the letter that the COI has been appointed look into the alleged political victimisation of public officers , employees of state corporations, members of armed forces and the Police and therefore Nissanka Senadhipathi ( Chairman of Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd) who is a complainant has no legal standing in the light of the above.
The AG also informed the COI that it is not empowered to review any decision of the AG and such power could be exercised only by a Court of law established in terms of Article 4 ( c) and Article 105 of the Constitution.
“In the circumstances it would not be proper for an officer of the AG to participate in any act which would fetter the AG from performing his statutory duty including the prosecution of pending cases before court,” the AG said.
Hence the AG reiterated that the summons and notice dated 17 June 2020 served on SSC Janaka Bandara is contrary to law and invalid.
In January, the AG Department filed amended Indictment before the Permanent High Trial at Bar in the Avant Garde High Seas Arms Trafficking Case consisting of 882 charges , down from the 7573 charges the Department had filed against the defendants in the case last September after the High Court Trial at Bar ordered the release of five of the accused from the charges in mid-January and said only 19 of the charges can be carried forward in the case.
The case is proceeding against eight persons including Senadhipathi.
Meanwhile the COI has issued summons on 17 respondents to appear before it today based on Senadhipathi’s complaint including SSC Bandara and former MPs including Champika Ranawaka, Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, Rajitha Senaratne , Arjuna Ranatunga as well as the former Navy Commander and Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne.
The COI looking into political victimization was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in January to inquire into any malpractice or irregularity, or non-compliance with or disregard of the proper prudence, norms, guidelines, procedures and best practices applicable in relation to the administration of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), Financial Investigations Divisions (FCID) or the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Police and Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
It is headed by Retired Judge of the Supreme Court Upaly Abeyrathne while its other members are Retired Judge of the Court of Appeal Daya Chandrasiri Jayathilaka and Retired Inspector-General of Police Chandra Fernando.