While ordering to recall the arrest warrant issued against State Minister Sanath Nishantha, the Court of Appeal today severely warned him to be present in court for all dates when the contempt of court cases against him are called before court. The Court of Appeal warned that it would compel to impose bail conditions if the State Minister failed to appear on time for the hearings relating to three contempt of court applications.
The Judicial Service Association of Sri Lanka (JSASL), the organization representing all the District Court Judges and Magistrates in the country and two lawyers had filed contempt of court applications seeking an order to punish State Minister Sanath Nishantha for the offence of Contempt of Court over a statement he made recently.
The Court of Appeal had earlier issued summons directing the State Minister to appear in court personally on October 13, to show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt of Court.
When these applications were taken up before Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justices Nissanka Bandula Karunaratne and R. Gurusinghe at around 10:05AM, the respondent State Minister was not present in Court. Counsel Shantha Jayawardena appearing for the State Minister said that his client did not receive summons and he moved court that three applications be kept down until his senior counsel Faiz Musthapha PC comes from Supreme Court. Subsequently, President’s Counsel Faiz Musthapha also confirmed the fact that his client Sanath Nishantha did not receive summons.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva with Saliya Pieris PC and Upul Jayasuriya PC appearing for the petitioners moved court to issue arrest warrants against the respondent Minister for his failure to comply with the court order. They contended that the court has issued summons on registered posts and summons have been dispatched accordingly. President’s Counsel Upul Jayasuriya submitted to court that the respondent is well-aware that he is required to be present in court since all media had reported the issuance of summons against him.
Taking into consideration the facts, the court of appeal decided to issue an arrest warrant against Sanath Nishantha, to be executed through the IGP.
However, State Minister Sanath Nishantha arrived at Court soon after the arrest warrant was issued against him and his lawyers made an application to recall the warrant. The matter was taken up again through a motion and Musthapha said a warrant had been issued while his client was on his way to court. Romesh de Silva PC submitted to court that the respondent being a public representative did not respect the court and raised objections for recalling the warrant. He further said counsel for the respondent is now taking a different stance contrary to the position they held in the morning. Saliya Pieris PC submitted to court that the respondent Minister should not be granted bail since he was absconding court.
Faiz Musthapha PC moved court to recall the arrest warrant against his client since his client has secured the attendance before Court.
Taking into consideration the facts, the Court of Appeal decided to recall the arrest warrant issued against the State Minister since he surrendered to Court at around 10:30am. Sanath Nishantha was severely advised to be present in court on time for the future hearings.
The JSASL President Magistrate Prasanna Alwis, its Secretary Additional District Judge Pasan Manoj Amarasena and two lawyers Vijitha Kumara and Priyalal Sirisena filed these applications naming State Minister Sanath Nisantha as the respondent.
The petitioners are seeking an order to punish State Minister Sanath Nishantha for the offence of Contempt of Court.
The petitioners stated that on August 23, 2022, Sanath Nishantha addressing a press conference held at the party headquarters of the SLPP, made a statement amounts to a direct interference with the due and proper administration of Justice.(Lakmal Sooriyagoda)