A writ petition filed by a retired Army Colonel seeking an order quashing the decision of the Election Commission to hold the local government elections was today postponed for May 11 by the Supreme Court.
The Court was informed that the Treasury Secretary has filed three affidavits informing that sourcing funds for the election has become a challenge since the government has to give priority for the essential services.
President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris, appearing for the Election Commission, submitted to court that the Election Commission is expecting a reply to the affidavits submitted by the Treasury Secretary. He sought a one-week period to respond to the affidavit since the election has been fixed for March 9. He further said the law has mandated the election be held before March 9. However, Justice S. Thurairaja observed that the court also has a diary and certain important things. He further said one of the judges on the bench will not be available in the month of March. The Supreme Court announced that the next available date is the month of May, and thereby fixed the petition for further support on the 11th of March.
Meanwhile, replying to a query by the Supreme Court about when the country’s financial situation will improve enough to hold the election, Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle said he is unable to make a comment without taking instructions from his client, the Treasury Secretary.
Saliya Pieris, PC, appearing for the Election Commission, said the repercussions of allowing the Treasury Secretary to take a decision on when the elections are to be conducted would be enormous. If this is done, the Secretary to the Minister of Finance and the Cabinet of Ministers can block the franchise of the people even at the Presidential Election and Parliament Election, he said.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court yesterday rejected a request made by several parliamentarians that notices be issued on the Secretary to the Treasury and the Government Printer to explain why they are interfering with solemn undertaking given by the election Commission. Several Parliamentarians, including Prof. G.L. Peiris, had filed writ petitions seeking an order directing the Election Commission to hold the election.
“The Election Commission has given a solemn undertaking to hold the election.” If any person tries to obstruct that undertaking given to the court, notices should be issued to the Secretary to the Treasury and the Government Printer. “In terms of the law, these officials are mandatory to the election commission,” Romesh de Silva, PC, appearing for Prof. G.L. Peiris, said.
In his petition, Colonel Wijesundera sought an order quashing the decision of the Election Commission to hold the local government elections before March 10, as reported by the media.
Several intervenient petitioners, including executive committee member of the National People’s Power (NPP) Sunil Watagala and national organizer of the Socialist Youth Union Eranga Gunasekara, had filed intervention petitions seeking an order to dismiss the petition filed by Colonel (Retd.) W.M.R. Wijesundera.
President’s Counsel Faisz Mustapha appeared with Counsel Faisza Mustapha Markar, Eraj de Silva, and Sujeewan Hendavitharana for the petitioner.
Romesh de Silva, PC, appeared for Prof. G.L. Peiris. Sanjeeva Jayawardena and Lakmini Warusevitane appeared for the four parliamentarians.