Case against Johnston filed in unlawful manner, High Court rules

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The Colombo High Court has ruled that the manner in which the Bribery Commission had filed its case against Highways Minister Johnston Fernando, pertaining to using Sathosa employees for political activities, was unlawful.

The decision was delivered by Colombo High Court Judge Manjula Thilakaratne today (January 15), accepting the revision application filed by Minister Fernando.

During the administration of the previous government, the Bribery Commission had lodged a case before Colombo Magistrate’s Court against Johnston Fernando for allegedly using 153 employees of Lanka Sathosa in political activities while serving as a minister between 2010 – 2014 and incurring a loss to the tune of Rs 40 million to the government.

Attorneys representing Minister Fernando had made an appeal to release their client, stressing that the Colombo Magistrate’s Court has no jurisdiction to hear the case as the Bribery Commission had failed to obtain the authorization from the three commissioners when filing the case.

However, rejecting the preliminary objections by the minister’s legal team, the Colombo Magistrate’s Court had decided to proceed with the hearing.

The minister’s attorneys subsequently filed a revision application before the Colombo High Court seeking the acquittal of their client and stated that the decision of the magistrate’s court is unlawful.

Taking the revision application into consideration, High Court Judge Manjula Thilakaratne ruled that the manner in which the case was filed was against the law.

Accordingly, the judge announced that revision application put forward by Minister Johnston Fernando will be accepted and directed the case to be referred to the Colombo Magistrate’s Court for further action.