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Appeals Court dismisses petition against Gotabaya’s citizenship

gotabhaya5The Court of Appeal has unanimously decided to dismiss the petitions filed challenging the citizenship of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, without taking it up for consideration.

The court today concluded the consideration of the petition while all parties were given time to present their written submissions before 3.15 p.m. Friday.

The decision was delivered by the judge bench comprising Appeals Court Judges Yasantha Kodagoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekara.

When the consideration of the petition commenced for the third straight day this morning, President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing on behalf of the defendant Gotabaya Rajapaksa made submissions and stated that according to the Citizenship Act, the power to grant dual citizenship to any individual is vested with the subject minister.

However, due to the fact that the Cabinet of Ministers had not been appointed as of November 21, 2005 the powers of the subject minister pertaining to the Citizenship Act are also vested with the President in such instances, he said.

He added that according to the Citizenship Act the Secretary to the Ministry is not assigned any role wth regard to granting dual citizenship.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva stated that although the petitioning party has claimed that the document pertaining to Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s dual citizenship is a fake document, that accusation is completely untrue.

He pointed out that Mahinda Rajapaksa, who served as the country’s President on November 21, 2005, had signed the document and that it is legal documents recognized by the court.

PC Romesh de Silva declared that the petitioners claiming that a document is false despite the existence of information proving otherwise is a serious matter and therefore requested the court to dismiss the petition on that basis.

President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana, appearing on behalf of the sixth respondent in the case former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, making submissions said in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the executive powers are vested with the President.

Therefore the decision taken by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa to grant dual citizenship to Gotabaya Rajapaksa is constitutional, he said.
He further requested the court to dismiss the petition without taking it up for hearing as it is based on baseless facts, Ada Derana reporter said.

Attorney-at-Law Suren Fernando, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, also made submission before the court saying that the certificate of dual citizenship issued to Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa is informal and illegal.

He reiterated that only the subject minister is vested with the powers to grant dual citizenship to any individual and that, however in this case it has been issued by the then President.

However, the court decided to dismiss the petition without taking it up for consideration.

The petition, filed by two social activists Gamini Viyangoda and Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara on September 30, was taken up for consideration for a third straight day this morning before a three-judge bench comprising Justices Yasantha Kodagoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekara.

The Controller General of the Department of Immigration and Emigration, the Commissioner-General of the Department of Registration of Persons, Minister Vajira Abeywardena, Secretary to the Ministry of Internal & Home Affairs and Provincial Councils & Local Government, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Senior Deputy IGP of CID and Officer in Charge of CID’s Special Branch have been cited as the respondents of the petition.

The petitioners had alleged that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has obtained a passport and a National Identity Card (NIC) claiming that he revoked his US citizenship.

The petitioners further stated that they have the necessary information to prove the former Defence Secretary did not submit proper documentation to verify the revocation of his US citizenship when obtaining a Sri Lankan passport and a NIC.

Hence, the petitioners had requested the Appeals Court to deliver an order suspending the issuance of a passport and a NIC to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. They also sought an interim order preventing the functioning of said passport and NIC until the court delivers the petition’s verdict.

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