AG requests court to dismiss petitions challenging election date

AG requests court to dismiss petitions challenging election date

May 22, 2020   12:45 pm

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The Attorney General has requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the date of the General Election, without taking them up for hearing.

Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva, appearing on behalf of the Attorney General, made this request while delivering an oral statement before the court when the petitions were taken up today.

The Supreme Court commenced the further consideration of the Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions filed challenging the date set by the Elections Commission to hold the General Election 2020, for the fifth consecutive day this morning (22).

The petitions were taken up before a five-member judge bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, and Vijith Malalgoda.

Seven parties including Attorney-at-Law Charitha Gunaratne, the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), and journalist Victor Ivan and the ‘Samagi Jana Balawegaya’ had filed fundamental rights petitions challenging the gazette issued declaring June 20 as the date of the General Election 2020 and the gazette notification issued by the President dissolving the Parliament.

The Attorney General, on behalf of the President, Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya, and Members of the Commission N. J. Abeysekara and Ratnajeevan Hoole have been named as respondents of the petition.

Mandatory provisions have been provided by the Constitution to fix a date for the parliamentary election and convene the new Parliament not later than 3 months from the dissolution of Parliament, the petitioners have argued.

Accordingly, the President had published a Gazette notification on March 02, dissolving then-Parliament and the General Election was subsequently declared to be held on April 25. However, the Election Commission later decided to postpone the poll to June 20 due to the local outbreak of COVID-19 virus, they had pointed out.

The Election Commission setting June 20 as the new date for the poll is against the provisions of the Constitution, they had stressed in their petitions.

The petitioners went on to note that the failure to convene the new Parliament within 3 months of the dissolution of the previous Parliament, makes the Gazette issued by the President invalid.

The petitioners say that a free and fair election cannot be held as the threat of COVID-19 virus is yet to be eliminated, adding that it is a violation of people’s right to vote freely.

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