Quo Warranto petition against MR withdrawn

A writ petition filed by 122 Parliamentarians including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking an order in the nature of Quo Warranto declaring that Mahinda Rajapaksa and 48 others are not entitled to hold the office of Prime Minister, Ministers of Cabinet and Deputy Ministers respectively was yesterday withdrawn before Court of Appeal.

When the petition came up before Court of Appeal Justice Arjuna Obeysekara, Counsel Niraj Ankatel with Dinesh Widanpathirana appearing for the petitioners told that they decided to withdraw the petition since they have already obtained the main relief.

Accordingly, the Court of Appeal decided to terminate the proceedings pertaining to the writ petition.

The Court was informed that Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and other respondents are expecting to withdraw their appeal petitions in the Supreme Court in due course. On December 3, the Court of Appeal had issued an Interim Order restraining Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Ministers of the Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers from holding their office until final determination of this writ petition filed by 122 Parliamentarians.

“It was the view of this that damage that may be caused by temporarily restraining a lawful Cabinet of Ministers from functioning would in all probabilities be outweighed by the damage that would be caused by allowing a set of persons who are not entitled in law to function as the Prime Minister or the Cabinet of Ministers or any other Minister of the Government. The magnitude of the latter damage would be very high. Such damage would be an irreparable or irremediable one. Such damage would also have far reaching consequences to the whole country,’ the Court of Appeal had observed.

The Court of Appeal had further observed that this order would not affect the country since the Interim Order would only prevent respondents (individuals) from functioning as public officers. The Court was of the view that Parliament passed Vote of No-Confidence against the Government with majority on two occasion on November 14 and 16. The Court also recognized the national importance of the petition and thereby decided to issue an Interim Order that would affect until the final determination of this petition.

In this petition, the petitioners further sought an order in the nature of Quo Warranto declaring that 49 respondents including the Prime Minister and the Ministers of the incumbent government are not entitled to hold the office of ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

The petitioners, the Members of Parliament representing the United National Party, Tamil National Alliance, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and several other parties filed this petition naming 49 persons including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, members of cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers as respondents.

The petitioners stated that on November 14, 2018, Parliament passed a vote of no-confidence against the purported government of the Respondents. They further stated that on November 16, Parliament passed another Vote of No-Confidence against the Government. They maintained that in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution, the Cabinet stood dissolved from November 14, 2018.

President’s Counsel K. Kanag-iswaran and Counsel Suren Fernando under the instructions of senior counsel G.G. Arulpragasam appeared for UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana with Counsel Navin Marapana appeared for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena and Manohara de Silva PC, Ali Sabry PC, Romesh de Silva with counsel Sugath Caldera and Kushan de Alwis PC appeared for the other respondents.

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