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

Hearing of FR Petition Challenging General Election Postponed to 1st. June

Colombo, 30 may, (Asiantribune.com):

Further consideration of the Fundamental Right petitions filed challenging the General Elections date was postponed on the 9th day of hearing yesterday, by the Supreme Court to 10 am on Monday (June 1).

It is expected that the Constitutional arguments to resume on Monday 1st June, as SC continues to hear FR petitions. PC M.A. Sumanthiran to make submissions on behalf of all of petitioners on Monday

Earlier, the FR petitions were taken up for consideration by the Supreme Court from 18 May.

The National Election Commission announced that the Parliamentary polls will be held on 20 June, after it was postponed from its original date of 25 April due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sri Lanka.

Attorney at Law Charitha Gunaratne, the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), journalist Victor Ivan, and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya then filed Fundamental Rights (FR) petitions challenging the date of the election.

Seven parties initially filed FR petitions challenging the Elections Commission's decision and one party has withdrawn the petition after the Commission informed the court that the election could not be held on June 20.

The petitions are heard before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, and Vijith Malalgoda.

The issuance of preferential numbers for candidates has also been withheld due to the ongoing hearings.

President’s Counsel Chrishmal Warnasuriya, appearing for intervening petitioners Chinthaka Ranmal Antony and Pradeep Kumara Panagoda, said that a country’s governance could not exist democratically without a functioning Parliament, which represented the legislature, and, therefore, Parliament should be summoned within three months.

Intervening petitioners in the fundamental rights applications filed challenging the proclamation issued by the President dissolving the Parliament continued to make submissions in court yesterday.

Appearing for the intervening petitioner Professor Sudath Liyanage, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry submitted that if the president is allowed to rescind the proclamation issued dissolving parliament, this power could be abused in the future.

He also challenged the arguments regarding the use of public finances put forward by the petitioners, and said that if there are concerns regarding public finance the remedy for that is in parliament and not before the Supreme Court.

He added that it is better to have some election under certain conditions rather than having no elections at all.

PC Ali Sabri pointed out that Sri Lanka had a presidential system of government and the Constitution had empowered the President to dissolve Parliament.

M. A. Sumanthiran, PC with Counsel Ermiza Tegal appeared for Charitha Gunaratne. Senior Counsel Viran Corea with 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 Kanishka Witharana appeared for intervenient petitioner Premanath C. Dolawatta.

Attorney-at-Law K. Deekiriwewa representing the intervening petitioner Indika Sampath, submitted that the proclamation issued by the president under Article 70(1) of the constitution and Article 70(5) of the constitution are two separate proclamations.

He added that, therefore a change in the dates of the election mentioned in the proclamation does not render the dissolution of parliament void in law.

Attorney at law D.L. Mendis appearing in person submitted that the postponement of elections by the elections commission is justified by the legal maxim that reads “the law does not compel a man to do which he cannot possibly perform”

He submitted that Article 70(5)(c) of the constitution allows for the date fixed for the first meeting of Parliament to be varied by a subsequent Proclamation.

He requested the court to refuse granting leave to proceed to the petitioners.

Appearing for Mahinda Amaraweera the general Secretary of the UPFA, President’s Counsel Faizer Mustapha submitted that his client should have been made a party to the applications.

He submitted that the powers of the elections commission are distinct from the powers of the president, and added that the president only puts into motion the election process.

President’s Counsel Shavendra Fernando making submissions on behalf of an intervening petitioner requested court to direct the elections commission to hold elections on the earliest possible date.

Attorney At law Chrishmal Warnasuriya making submissions on behalf of two intervening petitioners submitted in court that all prayers of the petitioners except for one of the prayers must be dismissed.

However, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya questioned the counsel on the matter as, the plea submitted by the intervenient petitioner he represents, requested the court to dismiss all the fundamental rights applications.

The court informed the counsel that he will not be allowed to continue to make submissions and added that he can submit any documents to the court to further clarify his stance on the matter.

Counsel representing the petitioners informed the court that President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran will be making submissions on behalf of all of the petitioners on Monday.

President’s Counsel Saliya Peria requested the court to grant him an opportunity to respond to the submissions made by President’s Counsel Romesh De Silva, as well as the intervening petitioners.

He stressed that he has a right to respond on behalf of the elections commission as some of the intervening petitioners accused the elections commission of colluding with the petitioners, and sought to obtain directions from Court on the elections commission.

The court informed the counsel that they will decide on which stage of the proceedings they will hear the reply on behalf of the elections commission.

The fundamental rights applications will be taken up for consideration again on Monday the 1st of June at 10 a.m.

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

- Asian Tribune -

Hearing of FR Petition Challenging General Election Postponed to 1st. June
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