Sri Lanka's Appeals Court rejects petition challenging presidential candidate's citizenship

Sri Lanka's Appeals Court rejects petition challenging presidential candidate's citizenship

Oct 05, 2019

Colombo (Sri Lanka) Oct 05: The Appeals Court today rejected the writ petition filed by two civil society activists challenging the Sri Lankan citizenship of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) presidential candidate and former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
A three-judge bench of Court of Appeal unanimously decided to reject the petition seeking a stay order preventing him from being recognized as a Sri Lankan citizen.
Civil rights activists Professor Chandragupta Thenuwara and Gamini Viyangoda filed the petition arguing that Rajapaksa's dual citizenship certificate issued after obtaining Sri Lankan citizenship in 2005 was invalid and requesting the court to issue an order invalidating the passport, national identity card and dual citizenship certificate of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as he is not a citizen of Sri Lanka.
The bench comprising Justices Yasantha Kodagoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera, announced the verdict at 6 pm today. The hearing of the petition was held for two days from October 02 to 04.
When the petition was taken up for hearing on the third day, today President's Counsel Romesh de Silva, appearing on behalf of former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, told the court that according to the Citizenship Act, it is the Minister in charge of the subject is vested the powers to grant dual citizenship to a person.
However, President's Counsel pointed out that since the Cabinet had not been appointed by November 21, 2005, the power of the Minister in charge of the subject of the Citizenship Act was vested with the President.
The President's Counsel stated that according to the Citizenship Act, the Secretary of the Ministry will not be given any role in granting dual citizenship.
President's Counsel Romesh de Silva stated that even though the petitioners had stated in court that the respondent Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's dual citizenship certificate was a forgery, it was completely false.
President's Counsel said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa functioned as the President of the country on November 21, 2005 and accordingly, the document signed by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been accepted as a genuine document before the court.
President's Counsel Gamini Marapana, appearing for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was named as the sixth respondent in the petition, stated that the executive power is vested with the President in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Accordingly, the decision taken by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to grant dual citizenship to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was constitutional.
President's Counsel Marapana requested the Court to dismiss the petition as it was filed on baseless grounds.
Attorney Suren Fernando appearing in court again on behalf of the petitioners stated that the dual citizenship certificate issued to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was improper and illegal.
Attorney Fernando stated that according to the Citizenship Act, the subject minister has the power to issue dual citizenship to a person and since the President has issued citizenship certificate to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, it is not a valid document before the law.
However, after considering submissions of both sides, the Court of Appeal rejected the writ petition requesting the issuance of an injunction order preventing Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from being a Sri Lankan citizen.
Source: Colombo Page