The Colombo District Court ordered Kimarli Fernando, chairperson of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), to appear in court in person on pursuant to an inter-parte inquiry held on the 02nd of February 2021.
It is a well-known fact that Kimarli Fernando has been misusing her privilege and political power over assets and properties of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) to advantage her family members and relatives for a long time.
Violation or disregard of a court order constitutes the Contempt of Court. In this most recent case, SLTDA higher officers including its chairperson acted in defiance of an interim injunction issued by the District Court over a land matter filed by Lanka Realty Leisure (Pvt) Ltd (LRL). Lanka News Web has published a series of articles in this regard.
During the inter-party inquiry into the violation of the interim injunction, the District Court dismissed all objections raised by SLTDA including Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, Director General Dhammika Wijesinghe and Additional Director General Anoma Nandani.
In fact, Kimarli Fernando erred in this way because of her own arrogance. She got herself in trouble as she tried to fiddle Lanka Realty Leisure (Pvt) Ltd (LRL), arbitrarily taking over land in the Yala tourism zone, which had been leased to the company for ninety-nine years, and trying to hand it over to her close relatives. While the company is still in possession of the land, she went to the extent of preparing a ‘Deed of Cancellation’ and continued her ploy.
On February 18, 2021, LRL again challenged Kimarli’s arbitrary conduct and obtained an injunction order against SLTDA from the Colombo District Court against the unlawful transfer of their land in the Yala Tourist Zone to a third party. The District Court granted them an interim injunction confirming that it was a justifiable request and what Kimali did then was to continue on her work in defiance of the District Court, without complying with the interim injunction. Consequently, Kimarli’s contempt of court is now arguing before the law, and in due process the Colombo District Court had issued notices to SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli and two other directors, this time, to appear in-person.
Kimarli did not appear in court at any of these proceedings related to LRL matter. One can say that this is the general procedure of government bodies to send someone before courts to represent themselves. However the government agencies should seek formal advice from the Attorney General’s Department on obtaining legal assistance in such court proceedings including but not limited to concluding from whom they should seek legal representation. The Attorney General’s Department has made it clear that SLTDA legal assistance should be sought from the lawyers affiliated to SLTDA. But Kimarli ignored that advice as usual, and paid hundreds of thousands of rupees of public money and enlist the help of President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva – a private lawyer. LNW have pointed this out in detail in a previous article.
Kimarli Fernando did not appear before the court this time as well, for contempt of court case, repeating her usual conduct. This time she had used the legal assistance of a team including again President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva and Harith de Mel for the SLTDA. The petitioner – LRL – was represented by a team of lawyers including Nishan Premathiratne, Ravi Karunaratne, and Vikum Jayasinghe on the advice of Attorney-at-Law Julian Pratheep.
After considering all the facts, the District Court on February 2, 2022, ordered Kimarli and the group to appear before the court in person. Colombo District Judge Aruna Aluthge ordered the re-issuance of notices to all the accused over contempt of court. He emphasized that no one is above the law, regardless of their official status or social status.
What is surprising here is that Kimali Fernando, as a lawyer who has been sworn in before the Supreme Court, so at least in this time she shall learn the meaning of the term ‘Rule of Law’ from the Colombo District Court.
Accordingly, at the next court date ie; March 16th, Kimarli will not be able to escape this scandal by sending lawyers representing herself or the SLTDA. She has to put aside her arrogance and so-called privilege and appear in person before the Colombo District Court.
As we have repeatedly said, SLTDA, the pioneer and the apex bosy in promoting the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, has never been so humiliated in past history in Sri Lanka. This is all because of nobody but Kimarli. The team, including Kimarli, now only has a limited duration to enjoy her privileges until March 16th. If proved guilty for the charge, she will serve up to two years in prison.
Kimarli will have to answer to the Lanka Realty Leisure (Pvt) Ltd and the country one day or another for this whole saga. This ugly game must end now.