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Last updated: 16 January, 2006 - Published 13:47 GMT
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Probe on Chandrika's land offer
President Kumaratunga with former cabinet coleagues
The courts have issued notice to the cabinet of ministers
The Court of Appeal in Sri Lanka has granted leave to proceed on a petition against providing a special perks to former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

This is the first time that courts in Sri Lanka have decided to probe an allegation against a former executive president of the country.

Sri Lanka's executive presidents are given immunity by the 1978 constitution.

Historic case

However, the Supreme Court has ruled later that the presidents are not entitled to that immunity after their tem in office.

The petitioner Victor Ivan, editor of Ravaya Sinhala weekly, alleges that a decision by the Cabinet of ministers to allocate a plot of prime land for the outgoing president violates the constitution.

 I can say that we should face this case
Former president's secretary

Victor Ivan told the BBC Sinhala service that the plot of land is "worth over Rs. 350m".

"She has spent over SLR 850m on developing the land in the vicinity of the parliament complex," he added.

Counsellor J C Weliamuna representing the petitioner told courts that the cabinet of ministers have violated provision 4 of the Presidential Privileges Act of 1986 by allocating one and half acres of land in Madiwela and a large contingency of security personnel for the former head of state.

Ministers issued notice

The counsellor argued that a retired president is only entitled to privileges that of a cabinet minister.

Former President Kumaratunga, current Prime Minister and the members of the cabinet were notified to appear before courts on 20 February.

 She has spent over SLR 850m on developing the land in the vicinity of the parliament complex
Petitioner Victor Ivan

The former president's office says that she will take appropriate measures with regard to the court case once she arrives in the country.

Secretary to the former President, Piyadasa Dissanayake, told the BBC Sinhala Service : "Although I cannot say what action Her Excellency would take, I can say that we should face this case".

He added that the land in question was granted to Kumaratunga through a cabinet decision and that she has already accepted the deed.

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