SC directs all media:
Follow EC guidelines
The Supreme Court yesterday directed all media institutions to comply
with the guidelines issued by the Elections Commissioner with regard to
the publishing of articles and telecasting and broadcasting of programs
during the Presidential Election campaign period.
The Court added that it would issue the direction to ensure the
holding of a free and fair election in the interest of justice. He also
noted that it made the direction without entertaining any accusation of
violations of such guidelines by certain media institutions.
The Court made the order in connection with a motion filed by
petitioner Presidential Candidate Sarath Fonseka seeking to place the
Associated Newspapers Company Ltd (ANCL) and Independent Television
Network (ITN) under the Competent Authority appointed by the Elections
Commissioner. The petitioner had earlier filed a rights application
alleging that his rights were violated by not giving publicity to his
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justice Shirani
Thilakawardane, Justice Nimal Gamini Amaratunga, Justice Saleem Marsoof
PC and Justice K. Sripavan.
President's Counsel D.S. Wijesinghe appearing for ANCL raised
objections to issuing an order subjecting ANCL to the Competent
Authority without first hearing the ANCL before determining whether it
had violated the guidelines issued by the Elections Commissioner.
President's Counsel Nihal Jayamanne and Manohara de Silva for ITN
objected the motion on the basis that the previous application had been
already terminated and relief had been granted. They argued that the
petitioner could complain to Court of his rights violation in terms of a
The counsel also argued that their client's freedom of expression
could be violated if ITN was to be subjected to the competent authority.
They submitted that the ITN could not have been treated with equal
footing as Rupavahini Corporation and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
which were expressly State institutions in terms of the Constitution.
They also argued if ITN was to be subjected to the Competent
Authority, it would be discriminatory while other private media
institutions are not treated in the same manner.
They also submitted that the guidelines issued by the authority were
vague and were questionable.
President's Counsel Srinath Perera and Counsel Upul Jayasuriya for
the petitioner submitted that State Media institutions violate
guidelines issued by the Elections Commissioner and were also not
cooperative with the Competent Authority appointed by the Elections
Commissioner. They submitted two media institutions were government
property, which could not be misused.
Attorney General Mohan Pieris PC among other things submitted that he
has not received any instructions from the Elections Commissioner.
The rights application was terminated.