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Human Rights

Court Petitions challenge pardoning of Gnanasara

Galagodaththe Gnanasara thero leading a march from Kandy in July/Upeksha Warawella

Two petitions asking for a review of the Presidential Pardon of Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero are before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

One was filed on behalf of the Centre for Policy Alternatives Sri Lanka (CPA) on Friday and another one by Sandya Eknaligoda, wife of the missing journalist Prageeth, today.

In the CPA petition, filed by Attorney Mohan Balendra, the petitioner contends that pardoning Gnanasara Thero in this manner negates and undermines the independence of the Judiciary as he was serving a sentence for Contempt of Court.

Persons are punished for contempt of court in order to maintain the dignity and authority of the Judiciary, the petitioner has pointed out.

Eknaligoda’s petition is also on similar lines and was filed by Attorney Astika Devendra on her behalf.

Gnanasara Thero was serving a sentence by the Court of Appeal for Contempt of Court committed in the presence of the Homagama Magistrate when he was pardoned by President Maithripala Sirisena in May.

Lawyers are complaining that the government has not released the Pardon Document which should show on what ground he was set free.

The President’s move was widely criticized coming at a time of heightened ethnic tensions.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka said the Court of Appeal exercises jurisdiction in respect of Contempt of Court in terms of Article 105 (1) of the Constitution, and added that contempt laws exist to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

“Laws of contempt exist to protect the judiciary from unwarranted interference with its authority and to protect the judiciary from attacks against its independence and authority,” it said.