Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said today (30th) in Parliament that an outsider cannot file a lawsuit against the member concerned regarding a statement made by a member of Parliament.
That was when Mr. Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the opposition, answered a question asked under parliamentary privilege.
Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa: Honorable Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to a serious issue, and particularly the privileges of Members of Parliament. I draw your attention to the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act. The Secretary General requests that a copy be given to the Speaker. Section 3 of the first part of that Act means freedom of speech and debate.
There must be freedom of speech and debate in Parliament, and that freedom of speech and debate cannot be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside Parliament. Very clear.
Section 4 provides that in certain cases no prosecution shall be instituted against Members, in respect of any matter which a Member has said in Parliament, or by reason of any matter or thing presented by him to Parliament by petition, bill, motion, motion or otherwise, or by reason of which he has committed any civil or criminal offence. Proceedings shall not be subject to arrest, imprisonment or damages.
So this is very clear, Mr. Speaker, you must act very responsibly under this Act. We are ready to secure the privileges of all members of Parliament. But in this situation, a case has been initiated against Mr. Roshan Ranasinghe for a speech he made in this Parliament in violation of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act. I would like to make a request to you, please sit in that chair and announce yourself as the chief guardian of MP’s privileges, is the country committed to this? Can this be challenged in court?
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: I believe that God will make an appropriate decision after examining it in the court. This is wrong, completely wrong.
Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa: Honorable Speaker, no, no, sorry. I am not talking about the court. I am talking about the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act of the Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Secretary-General, will you give me a copy? To the Speaker,
Speaker Mr. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: Yes. There are
Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa: Then this is a bill. Read the privileges 3 and 4 given to the MP by this Act. Then you are bound to keep it. This is a privilege of MPs. Therefore, I request you to announce whether it is possible to go abroad and file a case for a speech made under these 3, 4. Answer it.