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No execution can be carried out until Parliament provides for it: Anketell

Counsel Niran Anketell, appearing for the petitioner has pleaded that no execution can be carried out until the Parliament provides for the specific form of a warrant.

He added that the writ petition was not relying on the constitution but on the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code and Prison Ordinance.

He was making submissions before the Court of Appeal in support of the Writ Petition challenging the implementation of the execution of the condemned prisoners.

Counsel Niran Anketell in his submissions pleaded the suit is not against the President but against the Superintendent of Welikada Prisons, Commissioner General of Prisons and the executioner.

The case is based on Provisions of Criminal Procedure and the Prisons Ordinance. Form-7, which is the warrant for committal of prisoner, states to keep him under safe custody until the sentence is carried out. There is no power conferred on any officer of the State to execute the prisoner, and that the warrant for a convicted prisoner only authorizes detention custody and does not authorize the killing of a prisoner until Parliament confers the duty and the power on any officer who shall execute the prisoner. He concluded that no execution can be carried out until the Parliament provides for the specific form of a warrant.

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.

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


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