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Contempt of Court: SLTDA Chairwoman Kimarli Fernando avoids trial – case to be taken up on Monday

The case filed by the Lanka Realty Leisure (Pvt) Ltd. against the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) for allegedly committing contempt of court in violation of a court order was taken up for trial before the Colombo District Court. The respondents including Chairwoman of the SLTDA Kimarli Fernando were summoned to appear in Court, but they did not.

Accordingly, the case has been adjourned till February 14 and Fernando the SLTDA Chairwoman, its Director General and an Additional Director General have been ordered to appear on the designated date.

The aforementioned company filed the lawsuit against the SLTDA for leasing a property of tourist sensitivity in Yala area and the SLTDA leased the land in question to a third party in a direct violation of an injunction issued by the Court, thereby being accused of committing contempt of court.

It is in this backdrop has the Lanka Realty Leisure (Pvt) Ltd. appeared in Court again.

Romesh De Silva PC appearing for the accused via motion told the Court that Fernando the second accused is unable to attend the proceedings on 16.03.2022 in the event that she is set to fly abroad from 02.03.2022 to 20.03.2022.

Attorney at Law Sydney Premathiratne appearing for the plaintiff expressed his utmost objection and stated that the PC appearing for the accused has no legal provision to make such a request before Court in the event that the accused failed to appear in person before Court.

Pointing out that contempt of court is a serious allegation, Premathiratne added that the accused being constantly absent before Court makes them further liable to the offense.

The accused shall not be allowed to evade Court especially in the event that the District Court has clearly declared its order on 02.02.2022, he emphasised, citing the following;

“As contempt of court laws as mentioned above are criminal laws, the accused should appear in Court in person on the date mentioned in the summons when the summons is issued. As everyone is equal before Law, Law must be respected regardless of the status of the accused.

However, after receiving the summons, it appears that Attorney-at-Law Sanath Wijewardena, inspired by legal advice, has filed a proxy dated 10.05.2021 on behalf of the defendants before 24.05.2021 challenging the summons when the summons was due to be called, following which this Court concludes that it is not appropriate to issue warrant against the accused.

Accordingly, I hereby declare the following orders;

(C) As per the summons issued on 29.02.2021, I order the respondent accused 1,2,3,4 to appear before Court in person on 16.03.2022 to respond to the charge mentioned therein.”

The motion was directed to be called on February 14 to substantiate the facts and the second accused should appear before Court in person and seek permission, should she leave the country.

Attorneys at Law Vikum Jayasinghe and Pravi Karunaratne together with Attorney at Law Nishan Sydney Premathiratne appeared on behalf of the plaintiff on the instructions of the Attorney at Law Julian Pradeep, and Attorney at Law Harith Dimel together with Romesh De Silva PC appeared on behalf of the respondents on the instructions of the Attorney at Law Sanath Wijewardena.

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