Why are today’s court proceedings important to you? Here’s what happened.

Why are today’s court proceedings important to you? Here’s what happened.

Why are today’s court proceedings important to you? Here’s what happened.

Written by Staff Writer

20 May, 2020 | 2:17 pm

Here’s what happened…

The National Election Commission today informed the Supreme Court that the General Election cannot be held on 20th June 2020.

President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris, appearing for the National Election Commission today informed the Supreme Court that the election cannot be held on 20th June 2020.

Pieris also informed the courts that a general election can only be held about 10 weeks after the health authorities give a safety greenlight and there could be other factors that could make the holding of an election even a little longer than that.

What was the outcome of yesterday’s proceedings?

Yesterday, attorney at law Viran Corea appearing for The Centre for Policy Alternatives and P. Saravanamuttu in his submissions said that free and fair elections must be safe, and health experts have suggested that under the prevailing conditions holding an election is not safe.

He added that until that time a new Parliament can be elected, the functions of the Parliament must continue and he concurred with the submissions made by PC M.A. Sumanthiran.

He submitted that Articles 33A and 42 of the constitution stipulates that the President and the Cabinet are constitutionally responsible to the Parliament.

He further said in court that Parliament has full control of public finance.

He submits referring to the 2018 dissolution case that there is no special power vested on the President to dissolve Parliament except the power subject to the restrictions stipulated in Art.70.

He added that the framers of the constitution have taken great pains to emphasize that a new Parliament must meet within 3 months.

He further said that there is imminent danger unless the impugned proclamation is held void, otherwise, a dangerous precedent will be set where, for the first time, a vital organ of Govt will not be able to function for over the stipulated maximum of three months’ period.

Appearing for the petitions Att. at. law Suren Fernando said that the power of dissolution is not an open-ended power and added that, the election should not be held by hook or crook but It must be free and fair.

He said that all applicable principles of law have been decided by the SC in the 2018 dissolution case.

PC Ikram Mohammed making his submissions said that SC is the final guardian of the Fundamental Rights, there is no other place to go. It is a solemn and sacred duty of the SC.

He said that the President is also subject to the rule of law; he is a creature of the constitution, and he is not above the law.

The submissions of the respondents were being heard in court tomorrow followed by the intervening parties.

What is the background?

Initially, the elections were to be held on the 25th of April.

On the 20th of April issuing a special gazette notification, the NEC decided to postpone the elections to the 20th of June.

Mahinda Deshapriya announced that the election will be held on the 20th of June, following a special meeting held together with the three members of the commission and other stakeholders on the 20th April.

“With reference to the Notice No. 2167/19 dated 21.03.2020 in terms of Section 24 (3) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 01 of 1981, which stated that the Parliamentary Election for electing members of Parliament for the Electoral Districts set out in the Schedule hereto will not be held on 25th April 2020, it is hereby notified that the election for electing the members of Parliament for the aforesaid Electoral Districts will be held on 20th June 2020,” the Extraordinary Gazette notification says.

When the gazette was issued the number of confirmed cases of COVID19 was at 304.

Former Colombo Municipal Councillor Attorney Charitha Gunaratne filed a petition to the supreme on the 29th stating that the decision taken to cancel the election which was scheduled to take place on the 25th of April and to declare the 20th of June as the day for the election is a violation of the Elections Act.

The FR application notes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading in the country, conducting an election puts the lives of the people in a very dangerous position.

On the 4th of May Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives filed a Fundamental Rights application challenging the decision to dissolve Parliament on the 2nd March 2020 and the decision of the Elections Commission to reschedule elections on the 20th June 2020.

The CPA, in its petition, pointed out that, according to the constitution, Parliament should be convened within three months of being dissolved.

The CPA pointed out that it would be impossible to conduct a free and fair election due to COVID-19, as health risks would impact campaigning efforts and voter turnouts.

The Chairman of the National Election Commission and its other members, along with the Attorney General on behalf of the President, have been named among the respondents to the petition.

On the 6th of May Former MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara who is the General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya filed a Fundamental Rights application with the Supreme Court on the 6th of May.

The petitioners’ requests for two interim injunctions be issued invalidating the gazette issued by the President dissolving Parliament on the 02nd of March and the gazette issued by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission declaring 20th June as the day of the General Election.

The petitioners’ requests for two interim injunctions be issued invalidating the gazette issued by the President dissolving Parliament on the 02nd of March and the gazette issued by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission declaring 20th June as the day of the General Election.

The petition notes that according to the appropriation bill produced to Parliament on the 23rd of October the present government was only vested with the power to use public funds until the 30th of April.

Former MP Ranjith Mandduma Bandara further notes in the petition that it is unconstitutional to use public funds thereafter, adding by doing so the Government had violated his and the people’s fundamental rights.

The President represented by the Attorney General, the Chairman of the National Elections Commission and its members and the Attorney General were named as respondents in the petition.

On the 6th of May senior journalist, Victor Ivan and seven others too filed an FR petition with the Supreme Court challenging the 20th June Parliamentary Election.

The Chairman of the National Elections Commission and its members and the Attorney General were named among the respondents in the petition.

By the 6th of May, the number of COVID19 infections has risen to 795.

On the 14th of May a 05 judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Sisira De Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena and Vijith Malalgoda was appointed to this matter.

By the 17th of May, seven petitions were filled.

 

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