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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

Batticaloa Elections Cannot be Stopped: Supreme Court of Sri Lanka

Colombo 22 January, ( Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices Nihal Jayasinghe and Saleem Marsoof of the Supreme Court ruled that elections are a part of democracy and hence, the Court cannot stop Local bodies’ elections in Batticoloa. Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva noted that the Court could not interfere with the democratic process. He added that the Court could however assist the petitioner in their security concerns.

At the outset Senior State Counsel N. Pulle raising several objections argued that cases should be dismissed since there are no provisions to postpone the elections, and the Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister and the relevant returning officers had not been made parties.

The fundamental rights violation petitions regarding the elections were filed by the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK). In its petition, the ITAK said the current environment in the area was not conducive to the holding of free and fair elections.

Petitioners’ counsel M.A. Sumanthiran submitted that his clients were seeking to postpone the elections as there was no conducive environment to hold an election since the security of the area had been deteriorated.

M. A. Sumanthiran, Counsel for the petitioner, withdrew the fundamental rights violation plea of the right to franchise, but reserved the right to file a fresh petition if the security needed is not provided to his client.

The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi had complained of violence in the Eastern Province and a possible intimidation of electors
TMVP which claimed to be the political wing of the Pillayan faction, an alleged paramilitary group active in the area had expressed its intention to contest the elections but ITAK alleged that Pillayan faction cadres continued to carry arms and openly engaged in acts of intimidation and violence.

Elections Chief and the Attorney General were cited as respondents in the two petitions filed by Ilankai Tamil Aradu Kadchchi General Secretary Somasundaram Senathirajah MP and its Batticaloa MP, N. Indrakumar.

Petitioners said no free and fair elections had been held since 1994 due to violence and the breakdown of law and order. They said some 30,000 residents were displaced and bound to encounter grave and deliberate obstacles in exercising their voting rights. The petitioners drew the Court’s attention to several reported incidents of intimidation, killings and destruction of property in the Eastern Province allegedly perpetrated by the TMVP.

They said recently, three Pradeshiya Sabha members were assassinated and three others were abducted. They said that TMVP had allegedly threatened parliamentarians in the Batticaloa district and abducted and assaulted employees and members of their families.

Nominations to the local bodies in Batticaloa District were accepted from January 14 and polling is expected to take place in February.

- Asian Tribune -

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