Chairman of the Election Commission Nimal Punchihewa asserted the need to take appropriate legal action against Parliamentarians that violate the code of ethics devised and gazetted by the election commission during election times.
Punchihewas has submitted a proposal to the special Select Committee of Parliament to incorporate the code of ethics as part of the election law that could be regulated from time to time. He also asserts that it should carry penal provisions enabling a competent court to unseat the person accused of any violations upon being found guilty.
Proposing a separate court of law to hear such election cases, he says that if the government accepts the proposal submitted by the Election Commission, the courts appointed under the law can clear the matters concerning election offences within a given time frame.
Chairman Nimal Punchihewa made this announcement on the28th while presenting a copy of the proposals submitted by the Election Commission to the Special Parliamentary Select Committee (2021) to the prelates Malwatu Asgiri chapters in Kandy.
The Chairman of the Election Commission said:
“During the election period, the candidates pay scant respect to the code of ethics gazetted by the Election Commission. Candidates do not have any respect for the code of conduct.
There is nothing that we can do about the violation of election laws. We suggested that the electoral code of conduct should be included in the statute book as a mandatory law to be adhered to by all candidates.
If violated, it would come under the ambit of the relevant legislation as an electoral offence.
The particular law should comprise necessary teeth not only to deal during election periods but also to encompass the entire term of office of elected members.
Violation of any clause concerning the code of ethics during the term of office of a Parliamentarian should be determined by a competent court, set up for the purpose under the law.
Parliamentary standing orders to remove such Parliamentarians through a resolution after the court determination are also imperative.
“There are a host of changes proposed to the electoral system. Parliament should pass legislation to give effect to these proposals.
The commission has also submitted proposals to control and regulate the expenses and spending incurred during an election.
During an election, candidates spend massive sums of money to obtain votes. These should be subject to some control.
When one candidate spends billions, the other has no money to print at least a leaflet, which amounts to a denial of the level playing field for many.
As a remedial measure, we have proposed laws enabling cost control. “
“If a candidate receives money from any outside source, it should be included in a declaration.
The Cabinet of Ministers has given its nod to the draft prepared by the commission incorporating the proposals submitted to the Parliamentary Select Committee to change the electoral system.
Consultations with the Attorney General are underway in this regard. If we can adopt these proposals, there could be a drastic transformation in the electoral system. “
Candidates do what they want without fulfilling their promises to the people after winning. The people should therefore have the right to recall such people from Parliament. Citizens can file a complaint if a candidate they voted in commits misdemeanours.
The Supreme Court then can appoint a fixed panel to hear it.
If proved beyond doubt that such a Parliamentarian indulges in fraud and abuse of power, the term of office such Parliamentarian ends.
A bench comprising three judges of the Supreme Court could be assigned to hear these cases.
Removing an MP is a big task for the administration of justice. Hence it should be fair and done according to the correct procedure.