2020 general election: AG to decide fate

The Election Commission (EC) has decided to seek the Attorney General’s (AG) opinion on the validity of the nominations which were accepted during public holidays in March, a member of the EC, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole told The Morning.

According to him, the decision has been taken by the EC after a political party representative raised issues about the declaration of holidays and whether it would affect the validity of the nominations received by the Commission during those holidays.

Public Administration Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, in a special Gazette Notification, had declared three days – 17, 18, and 19 March – special public holidays, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Meanwhile, a fundamental rights (FR) petition was filed by a former councillor in the Supreme Court last week, seeking an interim injunction against holding a general election amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition was filed by former Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Councillor Attorney-at-Law Charitha Gunaratne, stating the EC Chairman, Mahinda Deshapriya, and its members, President’s Counsel (PC) N.J. Abeysekara, Prof. Hoole, President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Anil Jasinghe, and the AG, as respondents.

The petitioner requests the Supreme Court to declare that the Gazette Notification issued by the EC announcing the general election on 20 June is unconstitutional, and invalidate the Gazette Notification.

Prof. Hoole noted that depending on the AG’s opinion, the preferential numbers would be issued, and the decision on holding the election on 20 June would depend on the Court’s decision.

The Commission is preparing for the election as usual, he said.

According to him, the next EC meeting is scheduled for 12 May.

– Maheesha Mudugamuwa