'Tamil voters' fundamental rights violated' -- Supreme Court

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 25 March 2003, 20:15 GMT]
The Supreme Court Tuesday held that the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and the Commissioner of Elections had violated the fundamental rights of the voters in the LTTE held areas of the North-East province by preventing them from casting their votes at the last general elections held in December 2001, legal sources said.

The SC ordered the State to pay one hundred thousand rupees as compensation to each petitioner and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lionel Balagalle, to pay ninety thousand rupees from his personal fund, legal sources said.

The SC further ordered the Commissioner of Elections, Mr.Dayananda Dissanayake, to pay one thousand rupees to each petitioner from his personal funds, sources said.

The fundamental rights applications filed by five Tamil voters of the areas held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the North-East province came up for hearing before a three-member bench of the Supreme Court Tuesday. The bench comprised Justices Mark Fernando, Ameer Ismail and C.V.Vigneswaran

The petitioners had cited the Commissioner of Elections, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, the Government Agents of the districts of Vavuniya and Batticaloa and several army and civil officials as respondents in their FR applications.

The petitioners sought the Supreme Court to declare that the respondents had violated their fundamental rights by preventing them from entering the army controlled areas to exercise their franchise at the last general election, legal sources said.

At the last general election, several thousand Tamil voters residing in the LTTE held areas in the Batticaloa and Vavuniya districts were prevented by the SLA from entering the army controlled areas to cast their votes at the polling stations arranged for them, legal sources said.

In another development, the Supreme Court in its order held that allowing President Chandrika Kumaratunge, former Prime Minister Mr.Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, former Deputy Defence Minister General Anurudha Ratwatte and former Speaker Mr.Anura Bandaranaike to cast their votes from their residences at the last parliamentary election was against the law and it had no legal validity, legal sources said.

 

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