UNP's Counsel argues PA decision is correct

[TamilNet, Saturday, 11 December 1999, 07:53 GMT]
President's Counsel K. N. Chokesy, appearing for the UNP Presidential candidate Ranil Wickremasinghe, told yesterday the Court of Appeal that the appointment of an Acting Commissioner of Elections by President Chandrika Kumaratunge was an the exercise of the powers vested on her by the Constitution. Therefore, he argued, it was in compliance with the Constitution that this appointment has been made.

The Presidential Elections Act conceives a situation in which a commissioner is faced with a problem of being unable to perform his duties on a particular day and at that moment, he could appoint an acting person for a limited purpose, said Chokesy.

The Constitution conceives of a different situation.

Chokesy argued that under the Constitution, the President was the sole authority who could appoint an acting Elections Commissioner. The Constitution does not make any distinction between the appointment of a Commissioner of Elections and that of an acting person. Therefore, such a distinction is immaterial, he submitted.

Chokesy submitted that when there is a conflict between the Constitution and the Act, it is the Constitution that supercedes because Constitution is supreme law of the country.

He added that like the petitioners his client UNP Presidential candidate Ranil Wickremasinghe too stands for a free and fair election but under no circumstances could they consent to a postponement of the Presidential Polls at this juncture.

Deputy Solicitor General K. Siripavan submitted to Court that the appointment made by the President is valid in law.

The Bench comprised Justice Yapa, Justice Asoka De Silva and Justice Upali Gunawardena.

Ravaya Newspaper Deputy Editor Newton Seneviratne and former Air Marshal Harry Gunatileke are the petitioners.

Further hearing was put off for Monday.


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