COLOMBO – The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) on Wednesday (13) pledged to stand by actor-politician Ranjan Ramanayake and fight for his right to remain a parliamentarian, with leader of the party and the opposition Sajith Premadasa assuring, “We will press for his rights.”
Ramanayake was sentenced to four years of Rigorous Imprisonment by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday (12), for contempt of court, over a statement he is alleged to have made to the press in 2017.
Premadasa, speaking to reporters at a rally organized by the SJB Youth Wing at Independence Square, Colombo, on Wednesday, said party lawyers including several President’s Counsel were studying Ramanayake’s rights as a parliamentarian and would continue to press for his rights.
Ramanayake’s case stemmed from a complaint filed by a retired military officer who alleged the actor-politician had called 90% of lawyers and judges corrupt, while addressing the media in 2017.
The judges had reviewed several tapes before pronouncing judgment.
Premadasa said he was the person who fought for the nomination of Ramanayake, giving him the ticket to contest under the SJB banner when the previous UNP leadership refused to make him a candidate for the election.
He said SJB was dedicated to helping and providing necessary legal support in every challenge faced by Ramanayake.
“We feel very sorry about him, however, I am not ready to criticize or challenge a decision given by the courts,” Premadasa said, but noted that according to articles 89, 91 and 105 of the Constitution they feel there is no way, constitutionally or legally, for Ramanayake to lose his parliamentary seat.
“We will stand for him and will take all steps democratically to deliver him justice and fairness legally, democratically and constitutionally according to the Constitution to protect his Parliament membership,” Premadasa assured.
He also said that Ramanayake is a peoples’ representative who was elected with than 100,000 votes to be a Member of Parliament. “That highlights peoples’ sovereignty, no one can destroy that,” Premadasa pointed out.
Describing Ramanayake as a person who spoke about the wrongdoings without any fear, Premadasa said Ramanayake is a person who is accepted by millions in the country and a character who is loved by many.