The hearing of Expulsion Petitions filed by Tourism Minister Harin Fernando and Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manusha Nanayakkkara challenging the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) decision to remove them from their party membership commenced today before the Supreme Court.

President’s Counsel Faiz Musthapha, appearing for Minister Manusha Nanayakkara, submitted to the court that the removal of his client from the SJB had been done contrary to the party constitution. He contended that, in accordance with the SJB constitution, a decision to expel someone from the party membership had to be taken by the working committee but not by the disciplinary committee or the party leadership.

He further argued that the outcome of the recently delivered judgement in respect of Minister Nazeer Ahamed would not be applicable to this particular case since it has a different cause of action.

The Supreme Court three-judge bench, comprising Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Achala Wengappuli, and Arjuna Obeysekara, fixed the two matters for argument on October 24.

In terms of Article 99 (13)(a) of the constitution, an expulsion petition should be heard by three judges of the Supreme Court, and their determination should be made within two months of the filing of such a petition.

The two ministers are seeking a declaration that they have not ceased to be Members of Parliament and that they continue to be and shall remain Members of Parliament.

The petitioners maintained that they took over the Ministry portfolios upon many requests by the Members of the General Public who were desperate to see a solution to the eroding situation due to the economic crisis and in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution of the SJB.

The petitioners have named SJB, SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, its Chairman Sajith Premadasa, the Secretary General of Parliament, the Chairman of the Election Commission, members of the Election Commission, and several others as respondents.

The petitioners stated that the party’s decision to expel them from party membership was unlawful and contrary to natural justice.

They are further seeking a declaration that the conduct of the purported disciplinary inquiry is in violation of natural justice, thereby null and void, and has no force or avail in law.