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SC to deliver order tomorrow on petitions over polls

Supreme Court is to announce  at 3 pm tomorrow whether or not to grant leave for FR petitions filed challenging the polls date set by the Election Commission (EC).

Consideration of the FR petitions filed challenging the election date resumed for the 10th day today (1).

The petitions were taken up before a five-member judge bench of the SC consisting of Chief Justice Jayantha
Jayasuriya, and Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, and Vijith Malalgoda.
Seven parties including Attorney-at-Law Charitha Gunaratne, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), journalist
Victor Ivan, and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) had filed FR petitions challenging the Gazette issued declaring 20 June as the date for the general election and also the Gazette notification issued by the President dissolving
Parliament.

The Attorney General (AG), on behalf of the President, EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, and EC members N.J.
Abeysekara and Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole have been named as respondents in the petitions.

Mandatory provisions in the Constitution provide that a date for the parliamentary election needs to be fixed in
order to allow the new parliament to meet no later than three months from the dissolution of the (previous)
Parliament, the petitioners argue.

The President had published a Gazette notification on 2 March dissolving Parliament, where the general election was subsequently declared to be held on 25 April. However, the EC later decided to postpone the polls to 20 June due to the local outbreak of Covid-19.

The EC setting 20 June as the new date for the polls is against provisions in the Constitution, the petitioners stressed.

The petitioners went on to note that the failure to convene the new parliament within three months of the
dissolution of the previous Parliament, makes the Gazette issued by the President invalid.

The petitioners say that a free and fair election cannot be held as the threat of the Covid-19 virus still remains,
adding that it is a violation of the people’s right to vote freely.