30th  May, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 4
6

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ISSUES

  • New Minister of Constitutional Affairs

D.E.W. was sacked from Law College

By Frederica Jansz 

The new Minister of Constitutional Affairs, D. E. W. Gunasekera, while admitting he has no legal background, dodged confessing that he was sacked from Law College after being caught trying to cheat at a law exam.

Sworn in last week by President Chandrika Kumaratunga as minister of constitutional affairs, D. E. W. Gunasekera was sacked from Law College in the early 1970's for attempting to cheat at a Law College exam. 

D. E. W. Gunasekera

He was caught red-handed by attorney-at-law Upali Gooneratne, who was serving as an invigilator at this exam. Gooneratne who is a past President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka had grown suspicious when he had seen Gunasekera repeatedly pulling out a packet of cigarettes. Confiscating the packet he found a set of law notes concealed inside. Gooneratne had reported the matter to then Principal of the Law College, R. K. W. Goonesekera.

D. E. W. Gunasekera had pleaded with Upali Gooneratne at the time saying, "please don't report me, after all you are supposed to be my friend. Also I am secretary to the Ministry of Housing and if you report this incident I will commit suicide."

Gooneratne had maintained it was against his conscience to hide such an incident and filed a report on the matter. An inquiry was held and President's Counsel Desmond Fernando made representations on behalf of D.E.W. Gunasekera pleading his case.

Upali Gooneratne had said he could not recall if D. E. W. had actually used the notes on law, but what aroused his suspicion was his constantly pulling out the packet of cigarettes.

Desmond Fernando P.C. said he did make representations at the time on behalf of D. E. W. Gunasekera but that R. K. W. Goonesekera had stood firm and insisted D.E.W. Gunasekera must go. "DEW is a charming man. this is the only blot in his career," Fernando said.

When we spoke with D.E.W. Gunasekera soon after he took oaths as the new Constitutional Affairs Minister he admitted he has no legal background and that he is only a 'layman' when it comes to matters legal. When quizzed whether he had been expelled from Law College for attempting to cheat at a law exam, Gunasekera replied, "I cannot remember. I don't know of any such incident. hello. hello, I cannot quite hear you." he said, before abruptly switching off his mobile phone.

Ironically now, D. E. W. Gunasekera will serve as Constitutional Affairs Minister while R. K. W. Goonesekera, his former principal, is part of an advisory committee on constitutional change and the proposed new constituent assembly. A committee that will liaise closely with the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs. The wheels of justice have surely turned.

Gunasekera was also last month the President's nominee for the post of Speaker, but lost the fiercely contested seat to the main opposition candidate, W. J. M. Lokubandara.

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