By Niluka Sandun | Translated By Akitha Wijayasinghe
Though Premalal Jayasekara, a death penalty holder had the opportunity to be sworn in as a MP on 8th September, 10 years ago Sarath Fonseka was not allowed to sit in parliament sessions. He also lost his membership in parliament as he was serving a sentence of 3 years.
You'll find out how he lost his membership in detail here
After retiring from military service, the former Army Commander & Chief of the Defense Staff presented himself as the common candidate of the opposition in 2010 presidential election. There, he was defeated by his opponent Mahinda Rajapakse by with 1,800,000 more votes.
In 8th February 2010, Fonseka was arrested by a group of army officers. While remaining in remand custody, he competed for parliamentary elections from Democratic National Alliance in April 2010.
He was elected to the parliament representing Colombo district by obtaining 98,456 votes at the meantime, two charges were filed against him in the Court Martial. By one court decision, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
By the other court judgment, all his ranks, medals achieved and privileges were lost. And also another two cases were processing against him in the High Court in relation to the White Flag Scandal and HiCorp transactions.
Fonseka was later declared guilty for the White Flag Scandal and sentenced for 3 years in prison. He was not allowed to attend parliament sessions during this time for over 3 months.
Later the Acting Secretary General of Parliament at that time, informed the Commissioner of Elections that Fonseka’s seat was dismissed, based on the sentences no. 89(D) and no.91(A) in the constitution.
89(D) & 91(A) Sentences
Constitution 89 :- 89(D) if he is serving or has during the period of seven years immediately preceding completed serving of a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term not less than six months imposed after conviction by any court for an offense 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 proceeding completed the serving of a sentence of imprisonment for a term not less than six months awarded in lieu of execution of such sentence.
Constitution 89 :- 91(1)(A) No person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or sit and vote in Parliament, if he is or becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 89.
Ketagoda replaces Fonseka
Lakshman Nipuna Arachchi had obtained the next highest votes after Fonseka and was nominated to the seat but he refused to accept. Later Jayantha Ketagoda was appointed to the emptied seat.
No parliament seat even after the Presidential pardon
In 2012, Sarath Fonseka was granted presidential pardon and in January 2015, former president Maithripala Sirisena acquitted all the charges against Fonseka and released him.
After that, Fonseka inquired in Court of Appeal about his lost membership in parliament.
The Court of Appeal rejected his request, therefore Jayantha Ketagoda got the opportunity to continue work in his position.
According to constitution 89(D) and 91(A , if any person disqualified under this paragraph is granted a free pardon such disqualification shall cease from the date on which the pardon is granted.
Fonseka requested The Court of Appeal to let him to continue work as a MP as he was granted absolute pardon by the president but the Court of Appeal declined.
Former General Secretary of Parliament Dhammika Kithulegoda, former Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, General Secretary of Parliament Dhammika Dissanayake, Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, Selections in charge, Colombo H.T. Kamal Padmasiri, Lakshman Nipuna Arachchi, Jayantha Ketagoda and Attorney General were nominated as this petition.
Parliament on the day Fonseka lost his membership
The debate held on the day which Secretary General of Parliament informed the Elections Commission to dismiss Fonseka’s Membership of Parliament on 7th October 2010, was spiced up.
Opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe constantly kept insisting that this is a wrongdoing to Sarath Fonseka, a member of the chamber. But the Deputy Spokesman said that the Acting General Secretary has worked following the constitutional guidelines.
“The government is mistreating a war hero who led this country to a historical victory while providing pleasure to criminals Karuna Amman, Pilleyan, and KP.” MP Ajith Kumara said.
Wimal weerawansa said that Anoma Fonseka, wife of Sarath Fonseka should meet with President Rajapaksa and ask for an apology for her husband just like Chandrika Bandaranayake did with President Jayawardene when Wijaya Kunaranatunge was imprisoned.