Record Group 717
Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate, Inquire and Report the Issuance of Treasury Bonds During the Period 01st February 2015 to 31st March 2016
1.1 By notification published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 2003/41 dated 27.01.2017 of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, the President of Sri Lanka appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate, inquire and report on the issuance of treasury bonds during the period 01st February 2015 to 31st March 2016. Supreme Court Justice K. T. Chithrasiri was appointed as the Chairman of the commission, while Attorney-at-Law Sumathipala Udugamasooriya was appointed as the secretary and Supreme Court Justice P. S. Jayawardena and retired Deputy Auditor-General K. Vellupillai were appointed as the other members of the commission.
1.2 Under section 11 of the National Archives Law No. 48 of 1973 as amended by the National Archives (Amendment) Act No. 30 of 1981, it is the responsibility of the secretary of any Presidential Commission of Inquiry to deposit all records relating to such commission at the National Archives within three (03) months of the rendering of the final report of the commission.
1.3 Accordingly, the main document of the final report was handed over and accessioned by this department on 19.01.2018. The annexes of the report, administrative documents and audio-visual documents were handed over by the commission secretary on 16.02.2018 and 28.02.2018. The accessioning process of the department includes the checking of the number of pages of each volume in the presence of officials of the commission, by department officials who have signed a confidentiality agreement.
1.4 After such examination of the documents, the final transfer forms and confidentiality agreements were signed by the director general of the department and secretary to the commission on 23.02.2018 and 23.03.2018.
1.5 Except for the main document of the final report, the annexes and other documents were closed for thirty (30) years as per paragraph 2 of the regulations framed under section 16 (d) of the National Archives Law pertaining to public access to archives as gazetted on 15.12.1978.
1.6 All records thus accessioned by the National Archives are securely deposited at the department in a manner that ensures confidentiality.
2. Records Summary
2.1 The records of the commission accessioned by the National Archives under Record Group No. 717 consist of 341 records. It has 202 volumes and 139 audio-visual records and digital items.
2.2 Of the accrued documents, 19 files are administrative files of the commission. Among them are the gazette establishing the commission, the appointment letter of the secretary and extension of his service, media releases, orders and summons issued by the commission.
2.3 According to the main document of the report of the commission it has four annexes, namely, Annex I, Annex II, Annex IV and Annex V. In a letter dated 16.02.2018, the secretary to the commission informed the National Archives that the report does not contain an Annex III.
2.4 Annex I has representations made by the public before the commission.
2.5 Annex II
Annex II consists of marked documents presented as evidence during the sessions of the commission, and includes certified copies of original documents forwarded by various parties.
Under a directive from the Fort Magistrate Court made to the secretary of the said commission on 02.02.2018 and advice received from the Attorney General’s Department on 14.02.2018, the original documents of Annex II of the final report were handed over by him to the Criminal Investigation Department on 26.02.2018. Accordingly, the secretary forwarded to the National Archives by a letter dated 28.02.2018 a copy of the list of documents handed over to the CID.
However, photocopies of Annex II, consisting of 84 volumes, were deposited at the National Archives by the secretary to the commission. It was deemed important to accession at least a photocopy of Annex II by the department for future research and the commission’s secretary has certified the copies at the end of every volume.
Annex II has documents marked as C 1-368 presented by officers of the Attorney General’s Department. Of them, while the records C 90 D (i) and (iii) have been accrued, C 90 D (ii) has not been accrued. It is a Tamil language translation of the ninth volume of the COPE report. In addition, the evidence presented by the following institutions and individuals have been categorised in Annex II of the final report as follows:
PTL 1-144 Perpetual Treasuries Ltd.
KP 1-8 Kasun Palisena
BG 1-3 Bandula Gunawardena
AA 1-2 Arjun Aloysius
Ravi 1-2 Ravi Karunanayake
AM 1-54 Arjuna Mahendran
S 1-32 P. Samarasiri
Some marked documents of Annex II have also been deposited as audio-visual records in CDs, DVDs etc. They include telephone conversations, voice recordings, and information received from mobile phones.
2.6 Annex IV consists of one volume which includes written submissions sent to the commission by Attorneys-at-Law.
2.7 Annex V consists of the transcripts of evidence given before the commission. There are different volumes for each person and they contain their name, date and time of arrival and have been certified by the witnesses. The commission secretary by his letter dated 16.02.2018 has stated that Arjuna Mahendran and Kasun Palisena’s signatures are not included in their transcripts of evidence. Accordingly, the transcripts of 71 witnesses who gave evidence before the commission have been accessioned. Furthermore, the recorded evidence of those who appeared at the commission’s hearings has been deposited as audio-visual records.
2.8 The final report of the commission has 1154 pages and is open to the public.
3. Access to the records
3.1 The list of records of this commission accrued by the department can be accessed in the search room of the National Archives. The list must be read together with the main document of the final report of the commission which has a detailed list of the annexes.
3.2 As the Department of National Archives maintains a confidentiality agreement with regard to presidential commission records, the written permission of the Secretary to the President is necessary for public access to them under regulations framed under section 16 (d) as gazetted on 01.02.1980.
3.3 Furthermore, the National Archives cannot provide direct access to the classified records under section 5(1) (g) and (i) of the Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016. As per these conditions, the department is bound to maintain the confidentiality of the records due to the prevailing non-disclosure agreement regarding records that have been supplied by a third party.
3.4 As it is necessary to protect the integrity of these records, copies can be provided for public access while the original can be produced on special request.
U. Lasika Ariyaratne, Archival Officer
H. M. Deepani, Archival Officer