Vanni voters file FR applications
[TamilNet, Thursday, 03 January 2002, 17:13 GMT]
Three Tamil voters from Vanni region held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Wednesday filed fundamental rights applications in the Supreme Court praying to declare that the poll held on December 5 in the Vanni electoral district is null and void, and to order repoll as they with several other voters were prevented from voting by the Sri Lanka Army.
Thavaraja Sivakumar of Omanthai, Chelliah Joseph of Mullaithivu and V.Thangaraja of Nedunkerni have cited the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Lionel Balagalle, Security Services Commander in Vavuniya Major General Shantha Kottegoda, Army Spokesman Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne, The Returning Officer, Vavuniya K.Ganesh, the Commissioner of Elections Dayananda and the Attorney General as respondents in this FRC application.
The petitioners have filed the FR applications under the Article 126 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
The petitioners state in FR applications;
"The petitioners are citizens of Sri Lanka and are qualified to be electors at the election of the members of parliament of Sri Lanka.
"Petitioners reside within the Vanni Electoral District No: 11. The names of petitioners appear under No 109 in the Register of Elections for the Vanni electoral district.
"Of the total number of electors in the Vanni electoral district nearly 24 thousand are from the uncleared areas (outside the control of the government security forces) of Mannar and Vavuniya.
"Since for security reasons polling stations could not be established in the uncleared areas of the said districts. The fifth respondent (Commissioner of Elections) set up cluster polling stations in Thandikulam, Vavuniya, which is in the cleared area of the said district and the electors in the said uncleared areas were informed that they could cast their votes in the said cluster polling stations to which transport would be provided for them by the 4th respondent (the Returning Officer, Vavuniya).
"In order to reach the said cluster polling stations the petitioners and all others similarly placed from the said uncleared areas have to pass through the security checkpoints manned by the Sri Lanka Army at Pirmanalankulam.
"Since the petitioners residences are considerable distance away from the said cluster polling stations, the petitioners and several others from the said uncleared areas set out from their homes on 4.12.2001 and having spent the night of 4.12.2001 at Madhu Church refugee camp reached the checkpoint at about 6 morning on December 5.
"The petitioners and others who accompanied them were not in anyway prevented or hindered from proceeding to the said cluster polling stations from their respective homes by those who were in control of the uncleared areas.
"By about 7 morning on December 5 there were about thousands of persons including the petitioners at the checkpoint expecting to be given clearance to proceed to the said cluster polling stations in order to cast their votes.
"The petitioners and about 24 thousand other electors from the uncleared areas in the Vanni electoral district who had reached the said checkpoint on the polling day were prevented by the army personnel manning the checkpoint from proceeding to the said cluster polling stations and exercising their right to vote at the said general election.
"When representations were made to the 4th respondent, the Returning Officer, about the said act of the army personnel at the checkpoint the petitioner reliably understand the second respondent, Major General Shantha Kottegoda, Security Services Commander stationed in Vavuniya, had decided to keep the checkpoint closed throughout the whole of polling day and that the 4th respondent, the Returning Officer, had conveyed to the 5th respondent (Commissioner of Elections) the said information he had received from the 2nd respondent.
"The petitioners respectfully state that since the situation in an around the uncleared areas in the Vanni electoral district was entirely normal and peaceful on and before the polling day, there was no reason to apprehend that permitting the petitioners and other said electors to proceed to the said cluster polling stations, would have adversely affected national security or public order in the said electoral district.
"The petitioners respectfully state that the act of the 2nd respondent in preventing the petitioners and other said electors from proceeding to the said cluster polling stations and exercising their right to vote was an act that is unlawful, arbitrary and not bona fide.
"The petitioner further state that said act of the 2nd respondent in preventing the petitioners from exercising their right to vote at the said parliamentary general elections held on December resulted in, a) the violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed to them under Article 14 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Republic of Sri Lanka and b) the petitioners being treated less favourably than voters in most of the other electoral districts in Sri Lanka thereby violating the fundamental rights guaranteed to them under the Article 12 (1) of the said Constitution.
"The petitioners seek leave to file the following documents as soon an they are able to obtain copies thereof
(a) Report of the 6th respondent ( Commissioner of Elections) issued upon the conclusion of the said general election (b) Report of the European Union observers mission on the said general election (c) Report of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence
"Wherefore the Petitioners pray that Your Lordships' Court is pleased:
(a) to grant petitioners leave to proceed with the FR application
(b) to grant a declaration the fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 12 (1) and Articles 14 (1) (a) of the Constitution have been violated.
(c) To declare that the poll held in the Vanni Electoral District on December 5 is null and void
(d) To direct the 5th Respondent, Commissioner of Elections to take action to hold a repoll in the Vanni electoral district
(e) To grant costs and
(f) to grant such other and further relief as to Your Lordships' Court shall seem meet.