By Sandun A Jayasekera
The Elections Commission (EC) will not be able to hold the General Election on June 20 as announced on April 20 for several reasons and as such a bigger Constitutional crisis is in the offing, a senior source of the EC said.
The source on condition of anonymity for obvious reasons told the Daily Mirror that all political party representatives who met the Chairman of the EC Mahinda Deshapriya together with two other members N.J. Abeysekara, PC and Prof. Ratnajeewan Hoole on Saturday had in one voice said that they all were not agreeable to hold the election on June 20 for logistical and political problems created as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“They wanted a later date than June 20 for the election,” he added.
“In addition to their protest, the EC was not able to issue preferential numbers to candidates giving a minimum of 35 days for the election campaign required by the election law.
Whether nominations could be accepted during public holidays is also controversial and has been challenged in courts he said. The EC has sought Attorney General’s advice on this legal issue and the AG has advised to hold the election according to the election law, he said.
The government declared the entire week that fall March 16, 17, 18 and 19 as holidays following the Covid-19 pandemic. The acceptance of nominations for the April 25 Parliamentary polls concluded on March 19.
Another stumbling block to hold the election as scheduled on June 20 is the Fundamental Rights petition filed by a citizen - a voter.
The EC can’t take any decision on the election as long as the Supreme Court issues an interim order or concludes the hearing of the FR petition,” he stressed.
A former Municipal Councillor who is also a lawyer has filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking an interim injunction against holding a general election amid the corona virus pandemic.
The petition filed by the former councillor of the Colombo Municipal Council Attorney Charitha Gunaratne says that holding a general election while the country is engulfed in the corona virus pandemic was a violation of the fundamental rights of the Covid-19 patients and the general public.
Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya and its members President’s Counsel N.J. Abeysekara, Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara, Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe and the Attorney General have been cited as respondents.
The petitioner requests the Supreme Court to declare that the gazette notification issued by the Elections Commission announcing the general election on June 20 is unconstitutional and invalidate the gazette notification.