Treasury Secretary raises objections against contempt of court applications | Sri Lanka News

Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana through his lawyer today raised preliminary objections against the two contempt of court cases filed against him.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara and National People’s Power Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath filed these applications against Treasury Secretary for his failure to comply with the Supreme Court order issued regarding the Local Government Elections. 

Senior Counsel Eraj de Silva appearing for the Treasury Secretary informed Court that the Treasury Secretary has no powers to release such funds under the Constitution without the warrant of the Finance Minister. 
de Silva said that under Articles 150(1), (2) of the Constitution, the Minister must issue a warrant to release any funds from the consolidated funds. Elaborating on the circumstances, de Silva said even though the budgetary allocation was made in Parliament in December for the Local Government Elections, such allocation is subject to the continuance of Parliamentary control and other procedures. Under the Article 150(1), (2) of the Constitution a warrant of the Minister is required to release such funds. Thereby, Secretary to the Treasury on several occasions before February 14, 2023, released some money on the general warrant of the Minister. However, on February 14, 2023 the Cabinet decided to allocate the money only on essential expenses without pointing out the election expenses as essential expenditure. Thereby, now under the Constitution, there is no warrant anymore on Secretary to the Treasury to release such funds according to the law.

In reply, Counsel appearing for the Petitioners told court that there was a general warrant to release funds after the budgetary allocation in December, and thereby no Cabinet decision could have prevented the Secretary to the Treasury from releasing such funds. They also pointed out the fact that the contempt matter at hand is in fact regarding the question of why the secretary has not complied with the Supreme Court order and nothing else. Therefore, they were of the opinion that the Secretary to the Treasury should show cause as to why he did not comply with the court order. Subsequently, the Supreme Court  five-judge-bench headed by  Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya directed both parties to file written submissions within two weeks in order to deliver the order whether the summons should be issued against the Respondents or not. 

President’s Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam with Counsel Suren Fernando and Upul Kumarapperuma appeared for the petitioners.

Senior Counsel Eraj de Silva with Counsel  Hafeel Fariz, N.K. Ashokbharan, Janagan Sundramoorthi, Daminda Wijeratne and Naveed Ahmed appeared for the Secretary to the Treasury. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)

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