Sri Lanka’s death row convict MP Premalal Jayasekera allowed to attend Parliament session

COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan lawmaker from the ruling party, who was elected to Parliament while serving a death sentence in a murder case, was on Monday allowed to attend the parliamentary sittings by a court here.

The Court of Appeal issued an interim order, directing the commissioner-general of prisons to make arrangements for Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) lawmaker Premalal Jayasekera to attend the Parliament session beginning from Tuesday.

Jayasekera was convicted in a murder case on July 31, just days ahead of the August 5 parliamentary elections which he contested from the south western Ratnapura region.

Jayasekara filed a writ petition, seeking the court to order the commissioner general of prisons to allow him to attend the sittings of Parliament.

The court order came after Attorney-General Dappula de Livera last week ruled that Jayasekara is “unsuitable to either sit in Parliament or vote in the House.”

The attorney general had said that as per section 91 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, no person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament if he is or becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 89.

It adds, Section 89 (d) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka notes, no person shall be qualified to be an elector at an election of the President, or of the Members of Parliament or to vote at any referendum if he is under sentence of death and he will lose his right to vote under such a sentence.

Announcing the decision, Court of Appeal Chairman Judge Nawaz said that no court decision had been issued yet stating that the election of Jayasekara as a Member of Parliament was illegal.

Jayasekera and two others were sentenced to death by the Ratnapura High Court for the 2015 murder of a political activist in the run up to the January 2015 presidential elections.

Jayasekera was not able to attend the Parliament’s inaugural session on August 20 after the SLPP, led by the powerful Rajapaksa family, secured a landslide win in the parliamentary elections.