Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella today told Parliament that the parliamentary privileges of the MPs have been violated by disclosing details of phone calls to members of the Committee of Public Enterprise (COPE) from the owner of Perpetual Treasuries Arjun Aloysius.
The Minister pointing out that no COPE member is convicted requested the Speaker of House to call a party leaders meeting and take appropriate measure regarding the breaching of the MP’s privileges.
Speaking in Parliament today the Leader of the House said Arjuna Aloysius contacted the members of COPE with the intention of influencing their decisions but he did not succeed.
The Minister further pointed out that the five COPE members mentioned in the report submitted by the CID to the presidential commission investigation the Central Bank bond issue agreed with the COPE’s decision to prosecute the wrongdoers
“A report prepared by the CID has been submitted to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry. The fact is that Arjun Aloysius has failed to get any support from them if he addressed the five of them in the hope of making some changes to the COPE report. There was a consensus on the need for all to work against culprits,” the Minister said.
Minister Kiriella added the COPE signed a unanimous recommendation report on the Treasury bond investigation.
He said the Presidential Commission is not a judiciary and the MPs have not been identified as defendants.
“The question arise to us are, specifically, on whose instructions the private telephone records of the MPs were recorded and for what purpose. There is no case. No one has been convicted. The telephone is a medium that connects the voter with the MP,” Minister noted.
Minister Kiriella further said it was wrong to publish the information about MP’s phone conversations and permission should have been obtained from the Speaker before obtaining the information. Proper procedure was not followed and confidential information cannot be revealed, he further noted.
The Minister added that the media is distorting the information and requested the Speaker to summon a meeting of party leaders to inquire into the issue and take appropriate action.
“We are not against investigations. However, information obtained should be kept confidential. Publishing such information is a breach of parliamentary privileges,” the Minister said.
Responding to Minister Kiriella’s request the Speaker said a party leaders’ meeting would be convened.