I want to flag one or two issues concerning the responsibility of the parliament in this regard. But before I do that I am bound by law and tradition to disclose my interest in the matter.
I am the counsel who appeared for Hon. Ranjan Ramanayake in the supreme court, I was privileged to appear for a clean, honest politician in a court and I am proud of that, nevertheless he has been convicted and sentenced.
The sentence of 4 years’ rigorous imprisonment is unprecedented and exceptionally severe, and Parliament has a responsibility in this regard because we have not enacted a law for contempt of court, this has an implication to the article in the constitution that the Hon. leader of the opposition just mentioned. Because it says for an offense for which the prescribed punishment is 2 years or more, there’s nothing prescribed, nothing prescribed in the law because for long Parliament has failed to enact legislation for contempt of court.
Although there had been in the public well, a lot instances where drafts have been made, we have not done that, that is one.
And by failing to do that, it has been like the freedom of a wild ass anything can be given as a sentence and that is not a good thing. I don’t want to go into the merits of the case or anything like that, but in this case Parliament has to take steps, to enact a law, English law is supposed to be the substantive law because we don’t have a statute law now, and in English law itself scandalizing the court is no longer an offence of contempt of court, so unfortunately the court disregarded that, and has misdirected itself, that’s my position, but I want to bring to your notice a serious lacuna in the law with regard to a statue for contempt of court that has resulted in this unprecedented injustice to an honest member of Parliament.
(Speech made by Hon M.A. Sumanthiran in parliament today (19.01.2021) regarding Ranjan Ramanayaka)