The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu filed a Fundamental Rights application challenging the decision of the President to dissolve Parliament on 2 March 2020 and the decision of the Elections Commission to reschedule elections on 20 June 2020.
Petition states the Articles 70 and 33(2)(c) of the Constitution permit the President to dissolve Parliament prior to the completion of its five-year term, after the passage of four and a half years from its first sitting.
The President used this power to dissolve the Eighth Parliament on 2 March 2020 by Gazette Extraordinary no. 2165/8 and fix 25 April 2020 as the date for election of the Ninth Parliament, it states.
It points out that this was despite the fact that COVID-19 was spreading across the world, and Sri Lanka too was taking steps to combat it.
The declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, and its rapid spread resulted in the Election Commission making a decision to postpone the election. Thereafter, on 20 April 2020, the Commission issued Gazette Extraordinary no. 2172/3 fixing the election for 20 June 2020, it adds.
The Gazette by which the Eighth Parliament was dissolved fixed the date for the first meeting of the Ninth Parliament for 14 May 2020, it states.
It contends that while the said Gazette remains in place, a new date for the election of the Ninth Parliament cannot be fixed beyond 2 June 2020.
It maintains it is impossible to hold a free and fair election in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and that it would be difficult for election officers and voters to maintain social distancing during the election and the preparation for the same, which would increase the risk of the spread of the virus. As such there is a likelihood that elections could be further postponed beyond 20 June.
The lack of a functioning Parliament for more than three months undermines the sovereignty of the people and undermines the rule of law, it underlines.
It seeks the Supreme Court to declare that fundamental rights have been violated.