Polls within 10 weeks of June 20 | Daily News


 

EC tells Supreme Court

Polls within 10 weeks of June 20

Depends on green light of health authorities
EC formulating health guidelines

The National Election Commission yesterday informed the Supreme Court that there is no possibility of holding the General Election on June 20 due to the prevailing situation in the country.
President's Counsel Saliya Peiris appearing for Election Commission and its Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday revealed the Commission's stance regarding the eight Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the legality of the dissolution of Parliament and holding the General Election on June 20.
Peiris informed the Supreme Court five-judge-bench that the Election Commission is of the view that the Election could be held within 10 weeks commencing from June 20, if the health authorities give a green light.
He said the Election Commission is in the process of formulating health guidelines under the instructions of health authorities to proceed with the election.
Expressing the view of Election Commission regarding the eight Fundamental Rights petitions, Peiris submitted to Court that the Election Commission is committed to safeguard the sovereignty and franchise rights of the people. Accordingly, he moved not to grant leave to proceed against the Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission yesterday informed court that it would not make any submission regarding the legality of the proclamation issued by the President.
'In the context of the Coronavirus epidemic, the Election Commission was compelled to take some decisions in accordance with laws. The prime objective of the Election Commission is to conduct a free and fair election,” Peiris added.
'The Election Commission is mindful about public health and the election campaign. The Election Commission does not wish to see people getting ill. Delaying elections would also undermine Parliamentary Democracy. At the time of accepting nominations, no one made any complaint alleging nominations were called during holidays. The government Information Department had declared 17th to 20th of March as special holidays. It would not be a public holiday and would be a special holiday, even offices of Divisional Secretaries were opened during these days,” he said.
However, Election Commission member  S. Ratnajeevan Hoole presented a contradictory view regarding the acceptance of nominations during special holidays. Counsel Ashtika Theivendra appearing for Hoole told the court that accepting of nominations during the holidays was a violation of election laws.
'Looking at the pandemic, the Election Commission decided not to hold the Election on April 25 after seeking the advice of the health authorities. The Election Commission has always acted in complying with the Parliament Election Act. We requested from the Secretary to the President to seek the Supreme Court's opinion regarding the delay of election. However, he replied stating that the President has no intention to seek the court's opinion. June 20 as the election date was declared on the assumption that the curfew will be lifted throughout the country. The General  Election cannot be held on June 20 since the process pertaining to the postal voting has got delayed,” Peiris further stated.
Meanwhile, President's Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran appearing for Attorney-at-law Charitha Gunaratne, the first petitioner that his client has no intention to proceed with his petition following the Election Commission's decision not to hold General  Election on June 20.  
These petitions are to be taken up for further hearing today (21).



Cannot hold General Election on 20th June, EC informs Supreme Court - 15:34

Election Commission informed Supreme Court that under the current situation in the country it is not possible to conduct the General Election on June 20.


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