Supreme Court directs Appeal Court to cease inquiry into Fonseka’s application

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 16 November 2010, 15:15 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Court of Appeal to cease the inquiry into the Writ Application by Sarath Fonseka over his parliamentary seat till it determines whether the Court Martial comes within the phrase ‘any court’ as defined in Article 89/d of the Constitution. The ruling was given by five member bench of the Supreme Court when it took the application of the Court of Appeal seeking a clarification whether the Court Martial that sentenced Sarath Fonseka is considered a court or not. The bench comprises Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justices Dr. Shirani A. Bandaranaike, Nimal Gamini Ameratunga, Saleem Marsoof and K. Sripavan.

Sarath Fonseka was convicted by second Court Martial and sentenced him to thirty six months imprisonment on being found guilty for alleged irregularities in tender procedure while being him as the Commander of Sri Lanka Army.

However Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse had later ratified the jail sentence to 30 months instead of 36.

Fonseka was then disqualified to be a member of parliament and the Commissioner of Elections appointed a candidate from the list of Democratic National Alliance (DNA) who scored second highest preferential votes in the last general election. Sarath Fonseka is the leader of the DNA.

General Sarath Fonseka thereafter filed a Writ application in the Court of Appeal, challenging his expulsion from Parliament.

He said in his application that the court martial does not come within article 89/d and a sentence of 30 months rigorous imprisonment imposed by Court Martial II, could not unseat him from Parliament.

He had cited the Secretary General of Parliament, the Commissioner of Elections and the Attorney General respondents. Article 89/d of the Constitution says that a conviction and a consequent sentence of not less than six months, imposed by any Court, disqualify an MP from sitting in Parliament.

The Supreme Court unanimously held that once the Court of Appeal refers the matter to the Supreme Court, all the proceedings in the Court of Appeal should cease.

The SC then directed its Registrar to inform the Court of Appeal to halt the proceeding till final determination and put off the next hearing for December 6.

The Court of Appeal was due to issue an order on the interim relief prayed for by Mr. Fonseka on Thursday.

Mr. Fonseka sought an interim relief enabling him to attend parliamentary sessions.


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