The functions of the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Massive fraud and Corruption was adjourned temporarily until tomorrow after the lawyers of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa filed objections, citing that the President has no authority to appoint High Court Judges to the Commission. Later the Commission decided to meet again tomorrow.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and Technology Education and Employment Minister Susil Premajayantha appeared before the Commission this morning.
They appeared before the Commission today to participate in the public inquiry being held with regard to the none-payment of 200 million rupees to Independent Television Network. The money should be paid as advertising fees for the airtime they used for the election propaganda campaign of the former president Rajapaksa during the last presidential election.
Former President Rajapaksa and former minister Rambukwella were present as respondents while minister Premajayantha was present to participate to the on-going public inquiry.
In addition, former chairman of the ITN, former General Manager and its former deputy General Manager in charge of Marketing were also present at the commission today.
Meanwhile MPs Namal Rajapaksa, Wimal Weerawansa, Prasanna Ranatunga, Dallas Alahapperuma, Ranjith Soyza, Jonston Fernando and Provincial Councillor Upali Kodikara were present at the Commission premises to show solidarity to the Rajapaksa faction.
Our correspondent stated that in addition to the politicians, Ravana Balaya General Secretary Iththakande Saddathissa Thera and Muruththettuwe Ananda thera were also present at the commission premises to show their solidarity towards the former President Rajapaksa.
A little after the Commission began public hearing, attorney-at-law of the former president’s faction raised objections. He pointed out that there is a legal loophole in appointing judges to the Commission. He argued that the current president has no authority either to appoint High Court Judges to chair the Commission or to its membership. Later the functions of the Commission adjourned for 30 minutes to discuss the argument.
However the Commission decided to adjourn its hearing until tomorrow as the Commission officials and the Rajapaksa faction failed to come to a settlement.
Speaking to the media outside the commission premises, former president Mahinda Rajapaksa said the committee in charge of election propaganda has already paid the said money to the ITN, and ITN has informed the receipt of such money to the Presidential Commission already.
Update : Thursday, 15 October 2015 - 13:29
The President has no authority to appoint High Court Judges to the Commission of Inquiry on Massive fraud and Corruption
The hearings at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges were suspended till tomorrow following a preliminary protest by Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa on appointing High Court (HC) judges to the commission.
Mr. Rajapaksa's lawyer stated that the President does not have legal authority to appoint High Court judges to a Presidential Commission.
The Commission therefore does not have a legal authority to summon the former President, the lawyer argued further.