Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament that the government, having failed to make the judiciary, the Election Commission and the media toe its line, was now abusing parliamentary privileges to harass and intimidate them.
“Today, the provisions of the Parliament Privileges and Powers Act are being abused to deny independence granted to these institutions by the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. The government has got its MPs to raise privilege issues against a Supreme Court ruling.
“This is the first time I heard that MPs’ privileges are breached by a Supreme Court decision. The government is planning to summon the Supreme Court judges before the Parliamentary privileges committee and question them. Next in line, to face the privilege committee grilling, are the officials of the Election Commission and journalists. The media has a right to criticise a government in power as it has been held by the Supreme Court in many previous instances.
“Now, this privilege committee is planning to summoning the media who criticised the government and then refer the matter to the Attorney General to institute legal action against them.
“In fact, the Attorney General has already stated his opinion on this matter. The Attorney General has pointed out that there were precedents where the Supreme Court had upheld the right of the media to criticise a government action. However, those who are on the privilege committee either cannot comprehend the Attorney General’s instructions or are not ready to accept those instructions which are not in line with their political objectives.”