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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Supreme Court Postponed Further Consideration Of FR Petitions

Colombo, 28 May, (Asiantribune.com):

The Supreme Court yesterday, the seventh consecutive day of hearing, postponed further consideration of the fundamental rights petitions filed challenging the election date, until 10.00 a.m. today

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 Seven parties including Attorney-at-Law Charitha Jayawardena, and Vijith Malalgoda.

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 D
eshapriya, and Members of the Commission N. J. Abeysekara and Ratnajeevan Hoole have been named as respondents of the petition.

Counsel Bhavani Fonseka and Luwie Ganeshathasan appeared for CPA and Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, President's Counsel Geoffrey Alagarathnam, Pulasthi Hewamana, Lasantha Garusinghe, Anurangi Singh instructed by Ishara Gunewardane appeared for petitioner S.C.C. Elankovan.

Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni De Silva with Senior Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle appeared for the Attorney General.

Romesh de Silva PC with Ali Sabry PC, Counsel Ruwantha Cooray appeared for Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara. President’s Counsel Saliya Peiris with Counsel V. K. Choksy appeared for the Election Commission.

Ashtika Theivendra appeared for S. Ratnajeevan Hoole. Sanjeeeva Jayawardena, PC, appeared for intervenient petitioner Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera. Gamini Marapana, PC with Navin Marapana, PC, Counsel Kaushalya Molligoda and Uchitha Wickremesinghe appeared for Ven. Atapattukande Ananda Thera, an intervention party. Senior Counsel Canishka Witharana appeared for intervenient petitioner Premanath C. Dolawatta.

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.

Intervenient petitioners who have sought intervention into eight Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the dissolution of Parliament and holding the General Election on June 20, today moved Supreme Court not to grant leave to proceed with these petitions and dismiss them in limine.

President's Counsel Uditha Igalahewa appearing for an intervenient party informed the Supreme Court that a dissolved Parliament could not be re-summoned according to the Parliament tradition since it indicates the end of Parliament term.

President’s Counsel Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe appearing for intervenient petitioner Dasun Nagashena told the court that nobody can demand the re-summoning of Parliament unless an emergency situation has arisen in the country.

President's Counsel Manohara de Silva appearing for Prof. Pandula Andagama submitted to the court that the petitioners have failed to outline the omission on the part of the respondents and moved Court to dismiss the petitions on that basis.

President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva told the Supreme Court that there was no legal provision to recall the gazette notification issued by the President dissolving parliament and the gazette notification issued by the President on March 2 to dissolve parliament was legal.

President’s Counsel said that no legal provision has been made to hold an election and convene a parliament within three months of the dissolution of Parliament.

President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva made the submissions on behalf of Professor Pandula Edagama who filed the interim petitions while the fundamental rights petitions filed challenging the June 20 general election and the President’s dissolution of Parliament are being considered.

The President’s Counsel stated that although petitioners have called for the recall of the dissolved parliament, there is no provision in the Constitution to take such a step.

He also recalled the Supreme Court’s recent statement that the Election Commission can independently decide on the election date. He said that it is a matter of surprise that the Election Commission has asked for more time to set the election date and issue preferential number and charged that the Election Commission and the petitioners had jointly sought to postpone the election.

Thereafter, Attorney-at-Law Uditha Illagahawa, appearing for the interim petitioner, said the facts presented by the petitioners were contradictory.

The five-member judge bench ordered the further hearing of the petitions to resume today, at 10 am.

Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Stay Informed, But Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands.

- Asian Tribune -

 Supreme Court Postponed Further Consideration Of  FR Petitions
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