Colombo District Judge Pamila Ratnayake yesterday threw out without costs, two defamation cases filed against the Mawbima newspaper, when the plaintiff Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka withdrew the plaint.
Ranawaka had sued the Mawbima for Rs 1 billion and Rs 500 million in compensation claiming that it had defamed him on two occasions.
Ranawaka had filed the first case, against the said newspaper in the Colombo District Court on 2 January 2017 claiming that a news item that had been carried on 15 July 2016 had defamed him.
He thereby sought compensation in Rs 1 billion. He had named former Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Parliamentarian Wasantha Samarasinghe, the Editor of the Newspaper, Reporter of the Newspaper Anuradha Herath and Ceylon Newspapers Private Limited as respondents.
A second case was filed by him in the Colombo District Court against the same newspaper, on 20 January last year, over a news item that had been published on 20 December, 2014 stating that it too had defamed his character. He had sought compensation to the tune of Rs 500 million from the newspaper. Ranawaka had named the same respondents in the second case as well.
Attorney-at- Law M.C. Jayaratne, appearing for the plaintiff Minister, told the Court that his client does not wish to continue with the cases and hence sought approval from the Court to withdraw the two suits. President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for the respondent newspaper, told the Court that a request had been made to the Court to order the plaintiff to pay compensation in Rs 1 billion to the respondent.
He told the Court that if the plaintiff wished to withdraw the case then the respondent will not object to it.
Taking the submissions into context, District Judge Ratnayake granted approval to the plaintiff to withdraw the two cases filed against the defendant newspaper and threw out the plaints without costs. However, lawyers for the defendant newspaper argued in Court that the news items that had been published in the paper had been true and by the filing of the two cases against it, by the plaintiff the newspaper had been brought it into disrepute in the eyes of the public.
The Counsel for the respondents submitted a request to the Court demanding compensation in Rs 1 billion from the plaintiff