Centre for Policy Alternatives on 20 June, 2019

Centre for Policy Alternatives v Attorney General ( SC FR 256/ 2019)

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20th of June 2019: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, filed papers challenging the Presidential Pardon of Gnanasara Thero who was convicted for contempt of court by the Court of Appeal on 8th August 2018. He was sentenced to 19 years of rigorous imprisonment to be completed within 6 years.

CPA notes that the Constitution does not permit the President to act in a manner that undermines and erodes the independence of the judiciary in exercising his right to pardon under Article 34 of the Constitution. Further. after the Nineteenth (19th) Amendment to the Constitution came greater accountability as President’s action (except for the exercise of power to declare war and peace) is reviewable by way of the fundamental rights application before the Supreme Court.

CPA reiterates that grant of pardon for Gnanasara Thero for contempt of court frustrates the power of the judiciary to maintain its authority and upholds its dignity and the rule of law. It is submitted that therefore, that fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 12(1) [ All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection before the law] has been violated.

[Update – 04 October 2023]
The Supreme Court, today, granted leave to proceed in a Fundamental Rights Application filed by CPA and it’s Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, (SC FR 256/2019), challenging the granting of a Presidential Pardon to Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, by the then President Maithripala Sirisena.

Leave was granted under Article 12(1) of the Constitution, and the Respondents were directed to file several documents which were sought by the Petitiones.

The case is to be argued on the 6th of May 2024.

CPA’s Statement on the Presidential Pardon of Gnanasara Thero can be accessed here