23 June, 2024

Blog

Awaiting The Supreme Court’s Guidance On Elections 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The local government elections are unlikely to take place as scheduled on March 9. This is on account of the government printer declining to print ballot papers without prior payment by the Election Commission. The Election Commission is on record saying that due to this delay in the printing of ballot papers, and the difficulty of completing the postal voting on time, the elections may need to be postponed. This unexpected turn of events throws the country’s democratic process into jeopardy. It follows a government decision not to permit credit purchases by government departments. A long prevalent practice of the government printer undertaking the printing of ballot papers without payment in advance has been put into abeyance.

The problem is an absurd one as it is an internal issue between two state institutions both of which are funded by decisions of the government. It reflects the reluctance of the government to go to the polls at this time. The local government elections have come to be widely seen as a referendum on the popularity of the government and its legitimacy. The Supreme Court will be taking up the second of the two cases brought before it regarding the elections this week. It has given its decision in the first of the cases in which it stated there was no need for it to intervene as the Election Commission was vested with the power to declare the date of elections and had done so.

However, the court did not take up the second case due to defects in the petition and postponed the hearing to February 23 to enable them to be corrected. In this case the petitioner had argued that the prevailing economic situation in the country is not conducive to the holding of the local government elections. This corresponds to the position taken by government leaders that their priority is to revive the national economy and maintain political stability that is necessary for this purpose. The cost of the elections is estimated to be in the region of Rs 10 billion. The government has made provision for this sum in the national budget for the year. However, it now claims that it has no funds at its disposal to put into the elections although it has made provision for it in the budget.

Repat Protests 

The government treasury has explained its predicament as arising from a government decision to prioritise five areas for the utilization of government funds. The Treasury Secretary has explained that due to the ongoing economic crisis the government has decided that funds should only be utilised for essential services. Such services have been itemised and do not include expenses for the conduct of local elections. These are the purchase of paddy from farmers, provision of nutrition to malnourished children and pregnant mothers, gratuity payments and outstanding bills from the decentralized budget programme. If expenses were to be met from outside the list of items, special approval has to be obtained. The conduct of timely elections, which forms the base of the democratic system, needs to be considered to be an essential service.

If elections are not held or if a new date is not set for the elections, there is bound to be political instability. The Bar Association has warned “the conduct of the Secretary to the Treasury, the Government Printer, and other government officials and institutions over the last few weeks clearly demonstrates a concerted effort to bring the elections to a halt, thus undermining the franchise of the people and endangering the sovereignty of the people of Sri Lanka. Such attempts to prevent elections mandated by law represent an unprecedented attack on democracy and the rule of law and pose a grave threat to the electoral process in the future. The BASL warns that such actions could set a dangerous precedent for an unpopular executive or legislature to obstruct the allocation of resources for an election and prevent the people of Sri Lanka from choosing their representatives and leaders.”

In this context, the failure to hold the elections can provoke public protests by opposition political parties and direct action by the wider protest movement that escalates into the situation seen last year. Sri Lanka has had two negative experiences of governments having postponed elections which have come back to haunt the country. The first was the extension of the life of the parliament elected in 1970 with the government using its 2/3 majority in parliament in 1972 to put in place a new constitution that gave the government two extra years until 1977. The second was the extension of the life of parliament for five years (an entire term) through a referendum in 1982 by the government elected in 1977 with a 5/6 majority in parliament. The outcome was catastrophic for the country.

Regain Legitimacy

Elections give people an opportunity to express their support or opposition to a government and its policies. It lets the steam out of the system. A year after the referendum, the pent up frustrations of the people erupted in 1983 in massive communal riots targeting the Tamil people. This paved the way for full blown ethnic insurrection and civil war. On both these occasions, the governments that subverted the electoral process were at the height of their powers when they took those fateful decisions. The contrast with the present could not be more stark. The present government cannot be considered to be one that is based on the mandate of the people. More than anything else it needs to strengthen its legitimacy, which will best come by following the laws, including those pertaining to the democratic process, in a fair manner.

Ever since the protest movement succeeded in forcing the resignation of the president, prime minister and cabinet of ministers last year, the legitimacy of the government has been challenged. The government’s achievement has been to reconstitute itself with a new president, prime minister and cabinet of ministers without going to the polls. It is a legal government that has followed the constitution in holding on to power. However, the government’s legitimacy is in question. Legality refers to what fits within the law. Legitimacy, however, involves following a moral and just path that is acceptable to the people at large. Delaying the elections would further erode the government’s legitimacy and not strengthen it, and signal a grave threat to democracy. Failure to do so could lead to a second coming of the protest movement which the government would find difficult to contend with.

The leadership of the present government includes those who experienced the democratic distortions of the past and the debacles that followed them. They would be aware of the powder keg situation that could confront them. The possibility of transforming this crisis into an opportunity for democratic change that involves both the government and opposition in ensuring political stability for economic recovery is primarily in the hands of the government. In this context, it is likely that the government will be looking to the Supreme Court for guidance as to the next step. The decision of the Supreme Court is likely to be pivotal in shaping the government’s response. The conduct of the local government elections would be in the national interest. The primacy of the electoral process, even if with a short postponement, needs to be upheld.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 10
    3

    Back to SC thamasha, Scene one , Take two, Lights, Action Ready ………. cut, cut , cut ( no money )

    • 6
      3

      Sorry no money to even pay electricity bills.

      • 11
        0

        “A year after the referendum, the pent up frustrations of the people erupted in 1983 in massive communal riots targeting the Tamil people.”
        That’s one of the most creative explanations I’ve seen for the 1983 riots. I would have thought that the Opposition would have been frustrated, not the UNP goons who actually did it? Or does Dr. Jehan still believe that the JVP organized it?

        • 9
          4

          OC
          The man is an NGO mercenary and his intellectual dishonesty shows all too readily..

          • 7
            2

            “Kurudanum Pendilikku Addikiravanam”. The blind also once in a while get his hand on his wife to beat her up. Those who have seen a cat, which can only walk but manage to catch birds.

            Really Really Really good description of what Jehan PhD did……

            “The man is an NGO mercenary and his intellectual dishonesty shows all too readily”

            Pot is calling the kettle as black. Both are Really balancing match

            And, Jehan PhD cannot change his techniques of secretly, pushing through his ugly messages too,

            Come on Guys, keep going, and
            please don’t harass others.

            • 2
              3

              “Kurudanum Pendilikku Addikiravanam”.
              Do you still beat up your good lady?

              • 3
                0

                Good one? Which one? How did you found out that? Which country you studied?

                • 0
                  2

                  You declared it.
                  Is she not a good lady?
                  Is that why you beat her up?
                  Poor woman.

                  • 2
                    0

                    “You declared it. “
                    What is my declaration? Could look at some dictionary for the word declaration’s meaning and put it here, so I an teach you some English?
                    If you know a language you would answer to a question, instead slipping like eel. You went Rapist Air force to do translation. You, with your low grade mind, trying to induce me to mud slinging on all women. The groups you associated and lived with have reduced your dignity to that level man. I am not in mood until you become a man and give me rope for that.
                    Now, whom do you mean? For you even Siri Ma O also very good. I don’t have your taste bud to lick anything and rate or reject as good or bad.

                    • 3
                      0

                      Mallai, the guy who freely advise CT Editor and others about name calling and abuse, is him self a hypocrite. My advise is to ignore his abuse the same way, as I do with his advises / stupid comments. The so called educated Prof, crossed the line with Hancho and now repeating with you. Recently he boasted to have commonsense and comprehensive skills (neither English nor Tamil).

          • 3
            0

            China’s Aging Man in Sri Lanka

            “The man is an NGO mercenary and his intellectual dishonesty shows all too readily..”

            Is there any difference between a NGO mercenary and a member of China’s Velaikkara padei (Private Security Company)?
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89zLpiEijx4

          • 0
            0

            They are no better than sl youtubers.
            .
            Sepal Amararasinghe ( u tube channel holder) returning from prison day before yesterday, revealed to the press yesterday that he is no graduate. Earlier he was acting as if he was graduated from Colombo university.
            .
            Even if he exposed a lot but he pretended to be uni educated candidate until he was jailed. .
            .
            So danger before our people is really high when it comes to their journalistic tasks. Patta pal horu. These men act to stand against CRIME and CORRUPTION. 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

        • 6
          0

          Is it creative thinking or Day Dreaming – hidden behind the mist in the distant Horizon!!!???
          Whatever, it is fully agree very unique and controversial thinking ever propounded!!
          Certainly, MaRa, Tissa V, DEW, AKD etc., wouldn’t agree with that view?? Or for that matter even the “RUN OF THE MILL COMMON MAN” on the street??? They aren’t so DUMB!!!
          By EXTENSION, is it the considered view that THE MOBS COLLECTED ELECTORAL LISTS AT THE REFERENDUM JAN/FEB 1983 AND USED THE HOUSE HOLDERS LISTS FOR TARGETING IN JULY 1983 – which was well organised!!! BEYOND BELIEF!! FAR THINKING MOBS INDEED!! Wanathamulla emancipated elites!!!
          IF, such METICULOUS THINKING AND IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS WHICH HAS BEEN ATTRIBUTED TO THE WILD ‘COMMONER GARDENER’ MOBS, of 1983, has been IMPLEMENTED WITH ZEST, by successive government since Independence, led by VISIONARY “RULERS” AND EXECUTED WITH REGARD TO THE “ELECTION PLEDGES AND BUDGETARY PROVISIONS FOR 75 YEARS, we wouldn’t have ended up in this Mess!!!
          ‘My thinking’, therefore is that the SL ‘COMMONER GARDENER’ MOBS ARE MORE EFFICIENT AND EMANCIPATED THAT THE POLITICIANS AND SLAS – earlier CCS – “OXBRIDGE” EDUCATED ELITIST CLAIMANTS!!! No Avail!!!
          Wither SL!??????
          “TRYING BEST TO BURY THE WHOLE PUMPKIN IN A PLATE OF RICE”!!!?? – OLD ADAGE!!!

        • 3
          0

          old codger

          Not a day goes by without Ranil being seen or in the company of Saffronistas.
          Why?

  • 4
    0

    Awaiting The Supreme Court’s Guidance on Elections
    Supreme Court’s Guidance on Elections can say they cancelled the election due betterment of the country they can change the angle like the angle that Ranil as the president demolished the democratic with parliamentary vote for time being. give people an opportunity to express not the courts.
    Ranil is demo cracked President so he will put off as he will say that he signed many agreements only if he is here it will progress no one has experience to do, when people first went to moon no one had previous experience, if it happened so , those who has a will can do.

  • 5
    1

    “The problem is an absurd one as it is an internal issue between two state institutions both of which are funded by decisions of the government.”

    Parliament is the only body that has disposal rights on people’s money. The executive blocked the process by an order of the money the department spent should be in its possession in advance. Election commission is not a lifetime loss making body like Air Lanka. It is only a service department, so it has no revenue on its own, to have the money beforehand. While Air Lanka, CPC, CEO are always making losses without having money in their hand, how could one expect EC to have money in its hand? Is the Evil EP trying to tell AL, CPC, CEB all are budgeted with earmarked funds, and they have earned needed money to make a loss, but the fund allocated for EC is from the General fund so when the treasury is out of funds, election has to be canceled? What kind of independence does the EC Commissioner have? Is it some kind of 13A separation? Otherwise, if the Govt. Press is out of paper to print, ECC should be able to arrange with a private printer to print on credit terms.

    • 5
      0

      M,
      “It is only a service department, so it has no revenue on its own, to have the money beforehand”
      Very good point!!
      Therefore if the executive had the genuine interest in ensuring the sovereignty of the people enshrined in the constitution is upheld and knew in January of the impending elections, moved parliament and the Finance Ministry (held by executive directly) enables the process and provision for such costs!!
      Otherwise it is a FAIL!!!
      Utter and total failure in the mission, after failing to come through to parliament being elected than self-nominated!!!!
      AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE????

      • 3
        0

        Mahila,

        Thank you for your reply. The basic point is that elections cannot be made as essential services. It is already managed by an independent commission. The Commission just implements what is said in the constitution. An independent commission cannot be declared as essential services. It can then end up as an emergency declaration behind the back of the parliament. We follow Westminster precedents. In that system parliament is one the hold authority to approve the budget. Whatever the damn the Evil Emperor’s positions are in cabinet, he is not a member in parliament. He should not overrule parliament’s financial matters with executive order. Budget is approved and EC has the money, per-approved. The Commissioner is an independent man. His status is many times above the comedy clowns in the government press. Government press has the responsibility to put forward an explanation and have the EC commission’s job approved, if there is somebody above her who has to approve the printing job for EC. These all are wild donkeys, that is why we keep asking the Ceylon Mass to support the Protestors so they can drain the swamp of the 225 pests in Diyawanna Lake. Those who shouted (like Jehan PhD) that if the Evil Emperor were not appointed as EP, the country would go into anarchy and must now solve these.

      • 1
        1

        It is said in the constitution that if there is a gap or overlap, then follow Westminster to solve it. Now it is time for the confused Modayas to call the British authority in elections or Commonwealth Secretary or even a well-known British constitutional lawyer and ask him or her what can be done to this. Do you remember when the UNHRC brought its resolution 30/1 the Phoenix, Unknown Devil, Old Rowdy King Modaya hired Aitzaz Ahsan? (But all what he consulted was just to follow what UNHRC was saying or otherwise the country would decent into serious problems. Old Rowdy just fired him, refused to follow his advice and now the country is in hell)). Why can they not hire somebody who knows about elections, from the UK? Modaya Donkeys use elections to stay in power forever, while they are having parties and celebrations with fake excuses. Remember the Evil Emperor told lies to Sampanthar Aiyya and Sumanthiran about Secret Solution and Canceled the North East election forever? Out of the 35 years of 13A only one time North had an election. Now Sinhala Buddhist Modayas are getting the taste of how smart the UNP is in dodging the elections.

        P.S.:Follow today’s parliament debate on this matter. They talked about more points on this subject.

  • 4
    1

    The conduct of timely elections, which forms the base of the democratic system, needs to be considered to be an essential service.

    EC is independent. It need not go by the procedure placed for the department which are directly under the government. So, EC decides who prints their ballots and how to finance it and how to reimburse it. Why should EC need to be made Emergency Service? In all the countries the elections are predated, and they are held accordingly. Elections are withheld during war or natural disasters. It is never the other way around. That happens only in Baboons’ jungles.

  • 5
    3

    ” This corresponds to the position taken by government leaders that their priority is to revive the national economy and maintain political stability that is necessary for this purpose. “ The national economy has been going down the hill for 75 years. So for another 75 years Evil can remain as EP? Come on!

  • 5
    2

    Abolish the executive give all the powers to parliament. This is given whole country to one nutter.

    The system is so dangerous even the Ranil is not even elected to be an MP.
    Even Gunarasan Mervyn the silva Soorawamsa pardoned Duminda could have been prez too.

  • 10
    3

    Ranil and his cabal of parasitic vermin that infest parliament is playing with fire. The starving hordes can at any point face the barrage of bullets and still overwhelm the security apparatus and invade the den of thieves and rip their guts out, as justice for the thousands that die weekly of lack of basic medicines in hospitals and the malnourishment of an entire generation. If that is what the unrepresentative government wants, it is probably what it will get. No martial law or shoot on sight orders can stop a starving and furious population from seeking summary justice.

    • 3
      2

      Dear Sensitive Readers,
      As always, it is easy for all of us to point the finger at them. That is our easiest job.
      That is also the real identity of JVPrs for the last 50 years.

      Baseless news becomes a permanent dark cloud over the skies of Sri Lanka. so as High humidity in the air can cause lung and respiratory problems for people, likewise the impact of all negative thoughts can rather destroy people’s health. Coutnries fallen down worked together after them being beaten to earth. Germany and Vietnam are good examples. Our issue is more intrinsic culprits are among us than progressive thinkers. Schadenfreude is in their genes.
      .
      Need of the hour is not election but pulling together for a common goal, which is to revive the economy to some extent. It will be a synergistic effect on weakened state. Katin BATHALA HITANAWA mentality…. would not bring us any inch forward.
      .

  • 0
    1

    “It’s hanging in the balance”, one could well say.

  • 8
    2

    For President Ranil.W. Govt.Institutions like the the Treasury and the Govt;Printer are like Puppets on a string.
    What we see today with the Election Commission being pushed from Pillar to Post is a classic Muppet Show……………..

    • 10
      1

      Plato

      “For President Ranil.W. Govt.Institutions like the the Treasury and the Govt;Printer are like Puppets on a string.”

      How about the time of Rajapakse rule?

      • 5
        2

        Native,

        So, you agree Ranil has come to perpetuate what the Rajapakses did ……. and carry on in the same vein? :))

        btw …… Are you Gamini under another name?

        • 5
          0

          nimal fernando

          I am looking for my comment I wrote on the morning of 9 January 2015 immediately after the election results were out, in which I said it was going to be revolving door kind of politics.

          Exactly that has been the case.

          It is your mistake of not demanding more for the people.

          “Are you Gamini under another name?”

          I am not SJ to type under two pseudonyms, the other one being J Sekere.

          • 0
            2

            Now, have got into the game of prophesy? Not a good sign. See the doctor soon.
            *
            Poor Gamini, how can he be mistaken for someone desperately in a search of a doctor?
            “J Sekere” seems not too bad, but not clever enough for me.
            *
            Always remember, you can count on me to care about your health.

      • 4
        1

        NV,
        I am amused beyond belief!!??
        How could the outcome different when one MR and the other is RR!!!
        Does consecutive R’s make one more exalted and Important!!???

        • 0
          2

          M
          Do please not laugh out loud.
          The one with the crystal ball may get into a bad mood.

  • 6
    0

    Interested private party printers should hire lawyers and go to SC asking the EC be released from having the ballots printed only with government printer. So they can print the ballots on credit terms. EC is an independent organization, which should be able call for tenders for its purchases.

  • 3
    1

    There is a very interesting “Motion” filed by the Election Commission. This is consequential to the failure of the EC to fulfill the undertaking given to SC, that it would hold the election as per the Gazette notice. This undertaking was given when two petitions, that requested the SC to direct the EC to conduct the LG elections came up for inquiry.

    In this “Motion”, EC has named several Public Officials and Govt. Agencies viz. the Secretary to the Treasury, The IGP, The Government Printer, The Petroleum Corporation, and Electricity Board as the parties who “FAILED” to provide their services to conduct the LG elections.

    Now, what would be the decision of SC? If the SC decides and recognizes the “FAILURES” of the parties mentioned in the motion are those “Responsible” that prevented the EC to hold the election, every party mentioned in the motion could be prosecuted in terms of the provisions of the Constitution. Wan’t that would be a very interesting situation to watch? Let us wait and see.

  • 8
    5

    To all the admirers of the IMF:
    Would the IMF care?

    • 10
      0

      China’s Aging Man in Sri Lanka

      Why would IMF care?
      Does peacefully rising middle kingdom, Sri Lanka’s all weather friend, Sri Lanka’s friendly neighbor, …..care?
      Did IMF invite Sri Lanka to come to it and beg for a loan?

      • 0
        5

        Good morning.
        Not an easy night before it seems.
        Take care, especially your emotional health.

  • 4
    1

    It’s all sad, poor country and hungry people and no future and now no elections.
    Is it to hell with the people? for the supreme court to decide?

  • 3
    0

    All animals in general and man in particular needs air water and food for sustenance. Can anyone of these be dropped or discarded just because there is no money? If so, man has to die at some point or the other, without air in a few minutes, without water within a few days and without food definitely not after ten days. The Sri Lankan needs to elect persons to various bodies from time to time and failure to do so is the death of the Sri Lankan political body and there again No Money (NM) cannot be tenable. To wait till the last moment to say “Sorry Machang! NM” is irresponsible to the highest degree and is as good as not taking action to prevent an impending disaster despite prior warnings as in the case of 04/21 attacks. We all know that at certain times local government, provincial council, parliamentary and presidential elections must be held and in top of that the other essential payments as such as salaries, pensions etc. as propounded by financial wizards of this country. All these basic activities must be carried out and at such times and money must be found well in time.

    • 4
      0

      Good Sense,
      .
      1/
      Thanks GS, I think your point is thoughtful as many stand against the facts and today’s #reality.
      I do not think that the possibility of a famine in our naturally cultivable country can be a reality.
      People’s morale should be revived by injecting positive energies. Janata Vimukthi Peramuna is completely against any kind of practical achievements. They behave like freshers entering the university. The mentality of JVP is hateful and revengeful. It is in their inherent upbringing. We talk about racism against the minorities, however, I myself experienced how urbanite sinhalaya get on with rural village living sinhala at the state universities.
      Although more than 70% of the island’s population is confined to rural habitats, there is a wide gap between Sri Lanka’s urban culture and the heterogenous rural culture.
      -Crimes have gone up, because due authorities abuses in the working times, not having done the due during last 2 decades. Our people in huge portions, are really lazy and irresponsible to my eye.

  • 3
    0

    The only reason these people dare stay put and not resign in shame, is because they have vast sums of country money of the hardworking-suffering-Lankan-Masses stashed away, that is now frozen. It will be unlocked in bits and pieces when the correct conditions are fulfilled, like Federalism. Country is suffering because they tried to play geo-political games, attempting to hold global powers to ransom, but then the tables turned on them. Slick lawyers is all Sri Lanka has to show for innovation.

    • 1
      0

      Rtf,
      Only reason they stay in power is that they know whole lot of lanken people are stupdier than appeared to be..
      .If MARa and how he kisses babies is still good enough to keep the nation eternally mercy cows.
      .
      Buddist monks in the country have not the least knowledge about ongoing politics but their word is regarded above that if supreme court .
      We laugh at indian majority but our majority is the same. 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

  • 0
    0

    “attempting to hold global powers to ransom, “

    Grandma,

    Two days ago, the Evil Emperor claimed that he was the first to say that the “IMF is the last resort for Langkang, and that the Royals should go to the IMF.” Everybody knows what a great lie that and the hungry Sinhala Buddhists’ guts cannot stand up against that talk. It was like last year, when China was celebrating the 70th anniversary of CCP, The Evil Emperor said that it was Mavo who fought the freedom war of Langkang. It is difficult for everyone to understand, but it was an extension of Dr. WAW’s theory that the CBSL former governor Cabal is a fancier smarter than Nobel Prize winners, because he fought the Langkang freedom war with 3 months LC credits from Exim Bank and won it. (WAW printed his communist propaganda essays and sold them as textbooks for high school economics students, in addition to his hefty pension from CBSL, though students are quitting school and tightening their belts more.) The Evil’s speech, a double-edged sword, had two effects, 1). A rhetoric to humiliate the West who was offering an LNG power plant for energy shortage, 2). and a warning for TNA, showing China, who quit Evil’s company after seeing a long disastrous failure on the “Secret Solution ” negotiation.

  • 0
    0

    Now China is giving a fresh loan of $9B, in addition the $70$, to Pakistan, a warning to Langkang, “if you want to go with Evil’s new game of IMF loan, go and get it, and get lost, but payback my Loans in two years’ time.” This is the result of holding superpowers for ransom. . The economy fell 11%, but paying back another $2.6B loan, in the coming quarter. Whose loan is this? Royals’ bonds? Langkang telling China and others to cancel the loan. The Evil Emperor has cut off the poor’s consumption. It was Hitler who defaulted the payments last April, and enabled oil and food imports from India for its $4.5B. Evil crook is advertising that it is he who turned around the economy and that is why now milk and honey are flowing in the Asian Wonder. Let us be simple; is India’s help India for people being filtered and sent as repayments of robberies, UNP-SLFP twins did in the past?

    The only freedom war the Sinhala Buddhists can fight is joining the Protesters and stretching it until they change the Langkang’s political culture. Instead, if they go for UNP-SLFP Biriani and arrack sip in elections, they will bring down the Rapist Lion flag and fly the blood dragon flag of Mavo.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.