UCA News
Contribute

Sri Lankan cardinal moves court against appointment of top cop

Malcolm Ranjith finds fault with casting vote by speaker to clear appointment of controversial Deshabandu Tennekoon
President Ranil Wickremesinghe (center) attends Police Day celebrations in Colombo on Sept. 3, 2022. Wickremesinghe has promoted controversial officer Deshabandu Tennekoon as the new Inspector General of Police

President Ranil Wickremesinghe (center) attends Police Day celebrations in Colombo on Sept. 3, 2022. Wickremesinghe has promoted controversial officer Deshabandu Tennekoon as the new Inspector General of Police (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 13, 2024 10:59 AM GMT
Updated: March 15, 2024 05:31 AM GMT

Sri Lanka’s Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has filed a petition against the appointment of an officer accused in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings as the island nation’s top cop.

The 76-year-old cardinal on March 12 moved the Supreme Court, the top court in the country, to challenge the appointment of Deshabandu Tennekoon as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) by acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The cardinal was joined by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a leading public policy research group, which filed a separate petition challenging the appointment as "unlawful."

Both Ranjith and the CPA in their petitions pointed out that the appointment was not approved by the Constitutional Council, which is mandatory.

“Therefore, the president's appointment of Tennakoon is unlawful. The Supreme Court must nullify the decision," said the petitions, which named the speaker, attorney general, and the IGP as respondents.

It is legally binding that at least five of the eight members of the Constitutional Council must vote in favor of the appointment.

Tennekoon’s appointment on Feb. 26 received only four votes in its favor, falling short of the required five.

Two members voted against his nomination while two others were absent.

But Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena ruled it as a tie and used his casting vote favoring the nomination to clear the appointment of Tennekoon.

Law experts said the crucial fifth vote was cast by the speaker, who, according to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, is ineligible to vote unless there is a tie.

"Since there was no tie, the speaker's vote cannot be valid," opined G. L. Peiris, a former lawmaker and professor of law at Colombo University,

Tennakoon was promoted to the post of acting IGP by Wickremasinghe on Nov. 29, 2023, despite the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that probed the deadly 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, indicting him for failing to prevent them.

The simultaneous explosions in three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo left 273 people including foreign nationals dead and more than 500 injured.

Then, in January 2022, a live grenade was found inside All Saints Church in Borella in Colombo. But Tennakoon's team failed to arrest the suspect.

Earlier, in 2010, Tennakoon was convicted of violating fundamental rights by torturing an ex-army soldier. The Supreme Court asked him to pay compensation.

Lawmaker Iran Wickramaratne said an accused person should not be appointed as the top cop in the country.

Taridu Jayawardena, a journalist and rights defender, criticized the president for appointing an officer accused of violating fundamental rights to the top post.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia