Supreme Court's decision awaited on Northeast election Bill

[TamilNet, Saturday, 07 June 2003, 01:10 GMT]
The Supreme Court Friday is expected to convey its determination on the Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill to the President and Speaker of Sri Lanka's parliament soon, legal sources in Colombo said. The bill sent by the Speaker came up for inquiry before the Supreme Court Friday for its determination, according to legal sources.

The Bill empowers the Commissioner of Elections for calling fresh nominations and the holding of elections in municipal councils, urban councils and Pradeshiya Sabha in the Northeast province where elections to such councils have been postponed due to urgent circumstances.

Two petitions challenging the Bill were taken up for inquiry Friday before the Supreme Court bench presided by its Chief Justice Mr.Sarath N.Silva, legal sources said.

The petitioners, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Lawyers Association Assistant Secretary Champani Padmasekara and Attorney-at-Law Mr.Sarath Jayasinghe have challenged in their petitions that the Local Authorities (Special Provisions) Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution.

The petitioners contended that the Bill introduces a dangerous principle that pending elections can be cancelled or postponed.

The Counsel appeared for the petitioners argued that there was no reason for the postponement of pending elections or their cancellation as the security situation had improved with the cease-fire.

The Counsel further said that the decision to call for re-nomination went against the Constitution.

Additional Solicitor General Mr.Salim Marsook said the amendment has been introduced to the Election Law in a bid to strengthen democracy, legal sources said.

However, the Chief Justice Mr.Sarath N.Silva intervening said the government's decision to cancel the nominations and to call for fresh nomination would not be a welcome trend.

"It is very important to hold local government elections in the Northeast," the Chief Justice Mr.Sarath Silva asserted, the sources said.

The Chief Justice at the conclusion of the inquiry said he would convey his decision to the President and the Speaker of the Parliament in coming days, legal sources said.


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