By Stanislaus Celestine –
One Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan was arrested in 2008 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of Sri Lanka and the duty to look after his two little children went to his wife , Yogarani who had no permanent job to support themselves financially. Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan, after the criminal proceedings against him, was found guilty to the charges and sentenced to life Imprisonment by a high court and thus has been serving his life sentence in prison.
Things went from bad to worse when his wife, Yogarany died recently due to sicknesses. Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan was allowed to participate at his wife funeral ritual in Kilinochchi and after that ritual prison and police officials informed him that it was the time for him leave and proceed to the prison. When Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan went to get in the prison vehicle, his daughter, probably around 10 years old, who grew up without her father’s love with the support of her beloved mother who too left her permanently, refused to leave her father and without realizing the consequences, that little girl decided to go with her father in the prison vehicle to the prison and live there. The photographs and video footage recording this pathetic tragedy went viral yesterday and all the people who came to know about this felt bad and started to blame the Good Governance and the Tamil Politicians, especially the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which was widely criticized for indiscriminately supporting this Maithri-Rani Government.
Tamil people, who were instrumental in bringing HE President Maithripala Srisena into power, with a lot of anticipation expect HE President Maithripala Srisena, who is known and seen as a simple and kind hearted president, to grant a pardon to this ill fated Sri Lankan Tamil, Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan by virtue of his powers vested under Article 34 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
The Article 34 of the constitution of Sri Lanka is reproduced here.
Grant of pardon
34. (1) The President may in the case of any offender convicted of any offence in any court within the Republic of Sri Lanka –
(b) grant any respite, either indefinite for such period as the President may think fit, of the execution of any sentence passed on such offender ;
(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on such offender ; or
(d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the Republic on account of such offence:
Therefore, the HE President Maithripala Srisena has enough legal powers in this regard and it is matter of time for the president to make a determination as to whether he should grant a pardon on Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan.
If anyone asks a question so as to whether this is an exceptional case, my answer is Yes…A BIG YES…
My point on this matter will be justified in the following case law where Justice, Raja Fernando observed a similar concept in relation to what is an exceptional situation.
Under the laws of Sri Lanka, certain offenses have been classified as serious offenses and any bail application on behalf of such accused can not be entertained by such court unless there is an exceptional circumstance established by such accused through his petition.
In the Court of Appeal Case of CA (PHC) 03/2002, it was stated as follows:-
“…….Taking into consideration the special circumstances in this case, in that both parents are in remand and that thee is no one to look after the child and also the long period of remand, we enlarge the suspect, Kanathala Sueetha on bail subject to the following conditions”
Therefore, I emphasize that this is a right case for the HE President Maithripala Srisenal to apply his power vested under article 34 of the constitution to grand a pardon to this ill fated citizen and thus make a move for a good and reconciliatory enhancement between the Tamils and Sinhalese one step further.
I urge my fellow Sinhalese citizens to exert pressure on the HE President Maithripala Srisena to make a final determination on Sachchithanantham Ananthasuthaharan and grant a pardon in line with his power vested under Article 34 of the constitution of Sri Lanka.