Election bill amendments need 2/3 majority - Supreme Court

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 June 2003, 10:50 GMT]
The Sri Lanka's parliament Speaker Mr.Joseph Michael Perera Wednesday informed the house that the Supreme Court has determined that two third majority is required to pass the Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill in parliament, parliamentary sources said.

The Supreme Court, which held its inquiry two weeks ago into the petitions challenging the legal validity of the draft bill, sent its determination Tuesday evening to the Speaker, sources said

Tamil political sources said the decision of the Supreme Court has made it necessary for United National Front (UNF) government to muster support of 150 parliamentarians to obtain two third majority in the parliament to pass the draft bill. The present parliamentary strength of the ruling UNF (including its allies) is around one hundred and twenty three, sources said

The Local Authoroties (Special Provisions) Bill empowered the Commissioner of Elections for calling fresh nominations and the holding of elections in respect of certain municipal councils, urban councils and Pradesya Sabahs in the northeast province where election to such councils and Sabahs have been postponed due to unforeseen and urgent circumstances; and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, legal sources said.

The petitioners, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Lawyers Association Assistant Secretary Champani Padmasekara and Attorney-at-Law Mr.Sarath Jayasinghe challenged in the Supreme Court that the Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution. The Bill introduces a dangerous principle that elections can be cancelled. There was no reason for the postponements of pending elections or their cancellation as the security situation had improved with the ceasefire, counsel for the petitioners argued.

During the inquiry at one stage the Chief Justice who presided over the Bench said the government's decision to cancel the nominations and to call for fresh nomination would not be a welcome trend and it is very important to hold local government elections in the northeast.

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