The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) will stand by Actor-politician Ranjan Ramanayake and fight for his right to remain a Parliamentarian despite his prison sentence, Leader of the Opposition, Sajith Premadasa said.
“As we speak with our lawyers, several in President’s Counsel are studying these aspects and we will press for his rights,” Sajith Premadasa told reporters at a protest rally organized by the SJB Youth Wing at Independence Square in Colombo.
The rally called for freedom of speech and protestors condemned threats hurled at SJB MP Harin Fernando by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Ranjan Ramanayake was sentenced to four-years Rigorous Imprisonment by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 12, for contempt of court.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by a retired military officer, who alleged Ramanayake had called ninety-per cent of lawyers and judges corrupt, in a media statement made in 2017.
The judges had reviewed several tapes before pronouncing judgment.
Sajith Premadasa said that he was the person who fought for the nomination of Ramanayake and nominated him 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,” he said.
But he said that according to articles 89, 91 and 105 of the constitution, they feel that 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,” Sajith Premadasa said.
He also said that Ranjan Ramanayake is a peoples’ representative who was elected by more than 100,000 votes to be a member of Parliament. “That highlights peoples’ sovereignty. No one can destroy that,” he added.
Moreover, he said that Ramanayake is a person who spoke about the wrongdoings without any fear and is a person who is accepted by millions in the country and a character who is loved by many.