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Petition challenging resumption of death penalty must be dismissed in limine: AG

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Attorney General has pleaded that the Writ Petition challenging the reintroduction of the implementation of the death sentence must be dismissed in limine. AG made the plea when Writ petition came up for hearing before a fuller Bench of the five judges of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

The Bench comprised Justices Yasantha Kodagoda (President/CA), Deepali Wijesundera, Janaka De Silva, Achala Wengappuli and Arjuna Obeysekere.

Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle appearing for the Attorney General raised the Preliminary Objection on the maintainability of the Petition, as well as the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.

He pleaded that President is not a party in the Petition and thus the necessary party is kept out. He said that the time and date of the executions had to be decided by the President. The petitioner had instituted legal proceedings against the President. Petitioner is trying to impugn the order of the President, who has impunity, and the Constitution ousts the jurisdiction of the Court, but it should be instituted against the Attorney General.

He argued that Article 35, read with Articles 34, 13(4), 16(2), and 80(3), as well as Section 236 of the Criminal Procedure Code, do not permit this proceeding.

The petitioner is former Editor of The Nation Malinda Seneviratne. The petition challenged the Presidential Order of June 26, 2016, which ordered the execution of four convicts of drug offences in four days.

In his writ petition, the Petitioner sought an Interim Order preventing the Commissioner General of Prisons and Welikada Prison Superintendent from executing the sentence of death on any person. He stated that various steps have been taken towards reintroducing the implementation of the death sentence in the recent past including advertising for the recruitment of an Executioner, the procurement and preparation of rope and various other steps. On or about 26th June 2019, the President at a conference with heads of media institutions, revealed that he had signed papers for the execution of the death sentence, that four persons will be executed and the executions will be conducted soon. He believes that the death penalty offends the Constitution and is a barbaric practice.

Counsel Niran Anketel with Hafeel Farisz instructed by Vidanapathirana Associates appeared for the petitioner.

Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle appeared for the Attorney General.


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