By Chandani Kirinde
Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera yesterday gave the go ahead to the Election Commission (EC) to conduct the Parliamentary Election according to the procedure established by law.
The AG’s response was sent in response to a letter sent by the AG yesterday seeking advice on whether a legal issue arises due to acceptance of nomination on 17, 18 and 19 March which were within the nomination period but were declared as special public holidays by two Gazette notifications due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“I have considered the contents of the aforesaid letter and the applicable provisions of the law. It is observed that nominations have been accepted by you in respect of the Parliamentary Elections Act. In this context, it is further observed that you have also taken consequential steps for the conduct of elections. Therefore, in the circumstances, you are required to follow the procedure established by law for the conduct of the Parliamentary Election,” the AG said.
The Election Commission wrote to the AG seeking his opinion on the validity of the nominations handed over to contest the General Election after several party leaders who attended a meeting with the EC on Saturday raised questions about the process running contrary to the provisions of the election law.
Several of the representatives of parties that are contesting the election who met the EC had raised the issue about the validity of the nominations accepted during these days that were declared holidays by the Government.
Public Administration Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon in a special Gazette notification declared three days – 17, 18 and 19 March – as special public holidays to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. However, nominations were accepted on these days as 19 March as the last day for handing in the papers.
Although the issue of the validity of the nominations is out of the way, the date of the election hangs in the balance with the EC saying it will assess the COVID-19 situation in the country further before deciding to go ahead with the poll on 20 June or postpone it.