By A.J.A. Abeynayake
The Election Commission (EC) yesterday informed the Supreme Court that the general election could not be held on June 20.
President’s Counsel Saliya Peries, appearing for the EC submitted to the court that as of now it felt that the general election could not be held on June 20.
The submission was made when the fundamental rights petitions challenging the date of the election were taken up by the court.
The five- judge bench consisting of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, and Vijith Malalgoda continued hearing the relevant petitions for the third consecutive day, yesterday (20).
President’s Counsel Peiris said that an election could not be held until the health sector gave the green light. However, necessary steps would be taken to hold the election as soon as the EC received a positive response from the health sector. He said the election could be held within 9 to 11 weeks if the green light was given by the health authorities.
Counsel Asthika Devendra, appearing for EC member Ratnajeevan Hoole said that his client too had opposed holding the election on June 20 since nominations for the elections had been called on public holidays. Hoole had issued a press release stating his opposition, the counsel said.
Additional Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva appearing on behalf of the Attorney General objected to Hoole as a member of an independent commission acting against the views of the stance of the majority of the commission.
Attorney-at-Law Devendra, responding to a question by Chief Justice Jayanatha Jayasuriya, said that it was his client’s personal opinion and not the opinion of the EC.
President’s Counsel Dr. Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, appearing on behalf of SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam pointed out that the submissions made by the petitioners had no legal foundation and those petitions should not be granted leave to proceed.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silvak appearing for Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundara, pointed out that the Executive President had dissolved Parliament by the powers vested on him and there were no legal provisions to challenge his order. In addition, the petitions could not proceed because they did not meet the prescribed time-bar for fundamental rights petitions.
President’s Counsel M. A. Sumanthiran informed court that in view of the submissions made by the counsel appearing for the EC that the election would not be held on June 20 and since that fulfills the relief sought by one of the petitioners in SC FR 83/2020, he would not pursue the application. He said that there would be no need to continue that petition as his client had already received the relief sought.
The remaining petitions filed on the matter will continue to be heard at the Supreme Court.
Seven parties including Attorney at Law Charitha Gunaratne, Center for Policy Alternatives, and Journalist Victor Ivan, Samagi Jana Balawegaya filed Fundamental Rights petitions challenging the election date set by the Elections Commission.
The Attorney General, on behalf of the President, Secretary to the President, Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya, and members of the Commission N. J. Abeysekara and Ratnajeevan Hoole have been named as respondents of the petitions.
Hearing is scheduled to resume at 10 am, today.