By Siritunga Jayasuriya –
Commissioner of Elections
Request to initiate action against Secretary to MoD and UD for participating in election campaigns
You are well aware by now that Secretary to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Urban Development (UD), Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has participated in the launch of the election campaign of the Colombo District Jathika Hela Urumaya nominee Udaya Gammanpila, a candidate for the provincial council elections for the Western Province, on the the UPFA list, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute on 13 February, 2014.
The law is quite clear about senior public service officers taking part in political activities. All officers from staff grade and above are prohibited in taking part in political activities including attending any event that can be identified by the public as political.
Your attention is therefore drawn to Establishment Code Volume I and Public Administration Circular No. 6/2006 that provides for who a public officer is and Section 11 under the title Grading of Employees that says, tertiary and senior level officers including Secretaries and special posts at the level of Ministry Secretaries, placed at a salary level of 4/2006 are in the category of public officers, debarred from involving or participating in political activities and or events, that brings disrepute to the public service.
We as a recognised political party that had contested presidential and parliamentary elections in the past and contesting the provincial council elections in the West and the South wish to say, your social responsibility as Election Commissioner is derived from the fact that you have not only to be seen as taking every necessary step to hold a free and fair election, but you also take necessary steps effectively and without delay.
The issue of Secretary to the MoD and UD, participating in an election campaign event therefore warrants your immediate intervention. Candidate Gammanpila, commenting on Secretary MoD and UD participating in his election campaign event, accepts the said Secretary had participated in similar events even before. (Refer Ravaya of 16 Feb. 2014, front page main news story)
The Secretary to the MoD and UD not being a permanent employee from public service, we are aware his case can not be dealt with, as in the case of any other such public officer. Yet your responsibility demands you to raise the issue and request the appointing authority to take appropriate action according to the Establishment Code and relevant Public Administration Circulars. As far as our interpretation of the said rules and regulations are concerned, he has to be removed from service if proven guilty and his pension, eligible after 05 years of continuous service, has to be withdrawn.
We are aware you have already taken similar action by referring to the Public Service Commission (PSC), the participation of a Provincial Secretary at the farewell party of outgoing Chief Minister of the Southern Province, after the provincial councils were dissolved.
While these violations of the law at the highest level of the ministries go unchallenged, there are many reports of other officials at local level openly indulging in government party politics, thus making the whole election process a ruling party sponsored carnival. If Secretaries are also allowed to violate law publicly and with arrogance, your responsibility and commitment in holding a free and fair elections, turns out as a sorry debacle. That in turn violates the right of citizens to partake in a free and fair elections.
We therefore urge you to immediately intervene in reporting the issue of violation of law and recommend the Secretary be dismissed forthwith.
United Socialists Party
18 February, 2014