Members debate law, privileges and what constitutes public property | Daily News

Members debate law, privileges and what constitutes public property

The House yesterday (10) raised concerns regarding a recent statement made on the powers and privileges of Parliamentarians. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa questioned  if two laws operate in the country, one for the citizens and one for parliamentarians. Premadasa pointed out that parliament privileges do not surpass the law of the country.

“As per the Parliament Powers and Privileges Act the MPs are privy to freedom of speech without being subjected to legal measures, relating to being arrested as such. However, there is no provision to suggest that the Public Property Act and Penal Code are not valid within the parliament premises. So does this mean murders, burgling and assault can be done within parliament premises? We need to clarify this. Otherwise the public will misunderstand us. People seem to believe that there is a separate law for the MPs. Yesterday when a question was asked regarding the property damage done to the Chamber during the 52 days political coup, the answers given to it suggested as if we are above the law.” Premadasa pointed out.

Raising a Point of Order on the same matter, SJB MP Mujibar Rahuman noted that the public is given a wrong notion that the parliamentarians are above the law from the said statement by the Cabinet Spokesman.

MP Mujibar Rahuman said, “This statement will enrage people more. MPs are also subjected to the penal code of this country. People think we are superior. There is no such thing. Don’t do crazy things like this. Anger about us is increasing. A Committee was appointed to look into the damages done to the Chamber during the 52 days political coup. Five MPs were found responsible for damages. The CID carried out an investigation and was ready to file cases against the culprits. Losses incurred due to the damages were to be charged. The Secretary General said that charges payable for the damages was Rs.130,000. The investigation team took statements from the parliament staff regarding the incident and the MPs responsible were identified. Due to political influence legal measures were not taken against the culprits. Now they are hiding this fact and saying that the Public Property law is not applicable to the Parliament premises, people would think that we hold some super powers.”

Minister Dr.Bandula Gunawardena in reply said that, as a senior MP he is extremely disheartened by the irresponsible statements made by some opposition MPs.

“I, as the Cabinet Speaker replied to a journalist who asked me if the government is hunting down those who were involved in the ‘Aragalaya’. I said that there is no such attempt and pointed out that peaceful protests are not an issue for the government. However, I explained that, the government does not tolerate violence, violation of human rights, we shall not give any space to terrorist or anarchist acts. I said that we will take action against such moves. I also clearly pointed out that a parliamentarian lost his life due to an angry mob attack. Houses of 72 MPs were destroyed by the same protesters. The Opposition MPs did not raise their voices for their own colleagues. I said that MPs are privy to the Powers and Privileges Act. I would like to draw my attention to incidents such as the brutal attack against MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara in the past. There are many such incidents. You don’t know about such incidents. Whatever the political party may be, I would like to urge these MPs to secure the honour of this House.” Dr. Bandula Gunawardena noted.


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