Court to proceed with the petition challenging Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan citizenship

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Court of Appeal has decided to hear the petition, which was filed this morning (30) seeking the issuance of an order against recognizing former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and SLPP presidential candidate as a citizen of Sri Lanka, before a three-judge bench on the 2nd of October.

The petition filed by civil society activists Gamini Viyangoda and Prof. Chandraguptha Thenuwara challenging the Sri Lankan citizenship of former Defense Secretary was taken today before a bench comprising Justices Yasantha Kodagoda and Arjuna Obeysekera.

The petitioners requested the court to deliver the relevant order to the Minister of Internal & Home Affairs and Provincial Councils & Local Government Vajira Abeywardena.

Attorney Suren Fernando, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, requested the court to consider the case as an urgent matter and expedite the hearing of the petition since the respondent Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is expected to submit nomination papers on the 7th of October.

The petitioners’ counsel further requested the Court to consider the petition before a three-member bench of the Court of Appeal.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva, appearing on behalf of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, said that the case was filed with malicious intent and that the allegations contained in it were baseless.

However, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, stated in the open court that the petition should be considered before a three-judge panel as the matter is politically sensitive.

Accordingly, the petition was taken up for hearing by a three-member bench comprising Justices Yasantha Kodagoda, Arjuna Obeysekera and Mahinda Samayawardana.

The petitioners allege that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has obtained a passport and a National Identity Card (NIC) in an illicit manner in 2019 claiming that he revoked his US citizenship.

The court also ordered the issuance of notices to the respondents to appear before the court on next hearing day. It also ordered to submit any documents that are relevant to the case by 2:30 pm today.

The petition cited the Controller General of the Department of Immigration and Emigration RMSK Ratnayake, the Commissioner General of the Department of Registration of Persons P Gunatilake, Minister Vajira Abeywardena, Secretary to the Ministry of Internal & Home Affairs and Provincial Councils & Local Government Gamini Seneviratne, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and several others as its respondents.

President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana appeared on behalf of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has been named as a respondent.

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