Alleged corruption case against Minister Johnston cannot be maintained - HC | Daily News

Alleged corruption case against Minister Johnston cannot be maintained - HC

The Colombo High Court yesterday held that the alleged corruption case filed against Minister Johnston Fernando cannot be maintained since it had been filed contrary to the provisions of the Bribery Commission Act.

High Court Judge Manjula Thilakaratne made this order pertaining to a Revision Application filed by Minister Johnston Fernando. Accordingly, the Colombo High Court ordered the release of the accused from the corruption case and allowed the revision application.

The case was filed by the Bribery Commission during the period of the former Director General of Bribery Commission Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe against Minister Johnston Fernando, for allegedly causing a Rs.40 million unlawful loss to the Government by employing 153 employees of the Cooperative Wholesale Establishment (CWE) for election work during the period 2010 to 2014, while he was serving as the Cooperative and Internal Trade Minister in the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.

On a previous occasion, a revision application filed by Minister Johnston Fernando challenging a Chief Magistrate’s Court order that the Magistrate’s Court has decided to continue the case even though his lawyers have filed a preliminary objection stating that the manner in which the case has been filed is illegal.

In this case, the Counsel for Minister Johnston Fernando raised a preliminary objection to the effect that in any event the prosecution cannot maintain the case as they had failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of Law required under the law. It was contended that the Former DG had filed the action maliciously and without obtaining a mandatory direction under Section 11 of the Bribery Act. Under this provision the Director General cannot institute an action without the three Commissioners approving a prosecution. It was further contended that when a prosecution is initiated in a Magistrate Court it was mandatory to obtain the sanction of the Commission and that the former DG Bribery had filed this action without such sanction.

Minister Johnston Fernando has asked the Colombo High Court to declare the decision of the Magistrate’s Court illegal and acquit him of the charges.