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Legality of Fonseka expulsion hinges on interpretation of Article 89

[Tamil Guardian, Friday, 14 January 2011 08:44 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal is to announce on January 25th the constitutional interpretation from the Supreme Court whether the phrase “any court” in Article 89/d of the Constitution emcompasses within its meaning the "court marshall." The thirty months rigorous imprisonment imposed by Court Martial on former Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Sarath Fonseka resulted in his expulsion from the parliament.

Sarath Fonseka was elected from the Colombo district as a member of parliament  of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) polling highest number of preferential votes.

The five-member Supreme Court chaired by the Chief Justice Asoka de Silva took up the request of the Court of Appeal in respect of a Writ Application filed by Sarath Fonseka who has challenged the constitutionality of the Court Martial.

The relevant articles of Sri Lanka’s constitution state, in part,

    Artilcle 91(1)(a) of the Constitution stipulates that "No person shall be qualified to be an elected member of parliament or to sit and vote in the Parliament–
    (a) if he is or becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 89 [of the constitution]–
    The Article 89(d) of the Constitution provides that "if he is serving or has during the period of seven years immediately preceding, completed serving of a sentence of imprisonment for a term not less than six months imposed after conviction by ANY COURT for an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term not less than two years or is under sentence of death or is serving or has during the period of seven years immediately preceding completed the serving of a sentence of imprisonment for a term not less than six months awarded in lieu of execution of such sentence"

The Court of Appeal has decided to announce the SC interpretation on January 25.
Attorney General President’s Counsel Mohan Pieris in his submissions before the Five Judge Bench of the Supreme Court had asserted that Court Martial is a “Court” within the meaning of the words “any Court" in Article 89 (d).

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