Senior journalist Victor Ivan and seven others yesterday (5) filed fundamental rights petitions challenging the June 20 Parliamentary election.
Petitioners Victor Ivan, T.M. Premawardana, Prof.Anton Meemana, A.M Jiffry, S. Sivagurunathan, Mahinda Hattaka, M.S Jayakodi and Dr H.D.S.F.D Hearth cited Attorney General, Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya and its members N. J. Abeysekera and Ratnajeevan Hoole as Respondents.
The Petitioners stated that the 8th Parliament was dissolved and/or purportedly dissolved on or about 2nd March 2020; the 25th of April was nominated and/or purportedly nominated as the date for elections, and the new Parliament was summoned and/or purportedly summoned to meet on 14th May 2020 in terms of Gazette Extraordinary No. 2165/08 of 2nd March 2020.
They state that thereafter the Elections Commission gave inter alia notice of poll on or about 20th March 2020 that the election would be held on the 25th of April 2020.
However, on 21st March, the Elections Commission purported to make Order that “in terms of the powers vested in the Election Commission under Section 24(3) of the Parliament Elections Act, No. 01 of 1981”…..” the poll for the Election in the Electoral Districts mentioned in the Schedule below cannot be taken on the 25th of April 2020 due to the Covid -19 outbreak in Sri Lanka”, they said.
On 20th April 2020, the Elections Commission purported to fix 20th June 2020 as the date for holding of the poll.
They state that the Members of the Elections Commission have held out in media appearances that unless a free and fair poll can be held on 20th June 2020, which includes the ability for parties and candidates to campaign freely and openly, the date would be postponed even further.
They stated that in terms of the law and the Constitution, elections must be held and a new Parliament summoned within three months of the dissolution of Parliament.
They insist the Election Commission was not empowered to alter the date of poll and contends the Gazette notification amending the notification with the date prescribed for the holding of polls is unlawful, void
ab initio and of no force or effect in law.
They maintain that in any event a free and fair election cannot be held on 20th June 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken in respect of the same.
They are seeking the Court to quash the impugned gazette notifications. President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran is to appear for this petition.(S.S.Selvanayagam)