The Supreme Court Yesterday ordered to the relevant officials including Cabinet secretary to submit all documents pertaining to former President Maithripala Sirisena to continuous use of the residence currently used by him at Paget Road.The supreme court also fixed matter for argument on March 29.
Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice Preethi Padman Surasena, Justice Yasantha Kodagoda and Justice Mahinda Samayawardena granted leave to proceed this petition and made this order pursuant to a Fundamental Rights petition filed by Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu.
The Supreme Court further issued an order directing the respondents to present relevant documents pertaining to the subject matter of the application.
In their Petition, the petitioners stated that the residence occupied by former President Maithripala Sirisena on Mahagama Sekara Mawatha (Paget Road) is of great financial value and is a valuable asset of the Country.
The benefits received by former President’s and their widows are regulated by the Presidents Entitlements Act, No. 4 of 1986.
The Center for Policy Alternative stated that, the Supreme Court has previously recognized that the terms of the Presidents Entitlements Act, have to be strictly interpreted and applied. As such the CPA argued that, the allocation of a public asset of such financial value for the personal use of a former President who is no longer carrying out the functions of a Head of State is irrational, arbitrary and illegal, especially because the said residence was constructed in a manner befitting a Head of State. The CPA further argued it is wrong for the Cabinet of Ministers to decide on the benefits of a retiring President before he ceases to hold office.
Because of these reasons, CPA contended that the fundamental rights of the Petitioners’ and the fundamental rights of the citizens of Sri Lanka guaranteed under Article 12(1) (Right to Equality) of the Constitution have been violated by the above-mentioned decision made by the Cabinet of Ministers.
The CPA recognises that a former President is entitled to certain benefits in terms of the Presidents Entitlements Act, and to security in view of security concerns. As such the Petitioners limited their challenge to only the decision to provide continued use of the Mahagama Sekara Mawatha residence and the costs associated with same.
Counsel Suren Fernando appeared for the petitioners