14 December, 2019

Blog

The Buck Stops In EC’s Office 

By W. Vishnu Gupta

W. Vishnu Gupta

According to the Daily Mirror of November 12th 2019, the following statement has been attributed to Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Election Commissioner.

“It is none of the business of the Election Commission to inquire about candidates’ citizenship and as such the EC had not asked them to furnish any documents pertaining to their citizenship, EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he said they had not asked any candidate to produce any documents pertaining to the renunciation of other countries’ citizenship and added they had no relevance to that.

“We do not examine any documents of renunciation of citizenship on the submission of nomination or prior to that, the Chairman said.

When asked whether he had informed any individual that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had not submitted any documents regarding the loss of US citizenship, the Chairman said he had not personally met anybody and discussed the matter.

“It is a matter that would either promote or demote any individual,” he added”

The above is a clear case of where a public servant has neglected his duties. Irrespective of his title and authority it is ground for disciplinary actions. This government officer should not be treated differently .

Failing to perform his duties as required

He is a servant of the Citizens of Sri Lanka and as such he is expected to check and verify the authenticity of information provided in the application  submitted (nomination papers) by the candidates. If we are to accept his stated position, any foreigner pretending to be a Sri Lankan citizen will be permitted to submit nomination papers to be an elected politician in the country. 

In contrast to his dubious claim; “that is not his job”, even to obtain a National Identity card no Sri Lankan Citizen is permitted to submit an application without verifiable and authenticated documents. The officers accepting such applications visually and orally verify the authenticity and origin of the supporting documents required to obtain National Identity Card. If rule of law is applied rigorously in such a simple matter compared to the application/documents submitted to be the first citizen (President of Sri Lanka), how people can allow Election Commissioner to get away from a statement that confirms negligence of his duties.

Lack of respect for court decisions

In a similar situation, Ms.Geetha Kumarasinghe, was alleged to be a dual citizen. The final judgment disqualified her from holding a seat in the parliament of Sri Lanka as a MP. The Supreme Court made the following final conclusion after reviewing the Appeal case of Ms. Kumarasinghe.

In view of all the aforementioned matters, I hold that the Court of Appeal was correct when it issued a writ of quo warrant declaring that the 1 st Respondent Appellant was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and that she is not entitled to hold the office of Member of Parliament. For the above reasons, I affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal and dismiss the appeal of the 1 st Respondent Appellant with costs. In view of the conclusion reached above, the stay order issued by majority decision of the court comes to an end.”

The Election Commissioner is well aware of the background and all the facts considered in the Appeal Court and Supreme Court decisions. Hence this government servant should have paid attention to verify the information submitted by Mr.Gotabaya Rajapaksa, especially when it was known to the people of Sri Lanka and world at large that he was a dual citizen. Therefore it can be argued as the ultimate responsible person he failed his duty to act according to legal precedent and a judgment that was made with regard to holding dual citizenship. 

Added fuel to the fire of controversial statements of politicians

Election commissioner has broken the trust that people have placed on him by not thoroughly inspecting the requirements and the supporting document according to the laws of nation. Therefore, he is a party to igniting a highly divisive political debate that is not helpful to ensure safe functioning of an act of democracy; Presidential Election. He has failed the people of Sri Lanka especially his callous words; pertaining to the renunciation of other countries’ citizenship and added they had no relevance to that.” indirectly he has challenged the court verdicts and the stipulations made in the 19th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution with regard to the persons holding dual citizenship. Who is the responsible authority to check all the requirements according to the statute of the land; surely it is not the responsibility of corrupt politicians. Victim in this situation is the candidate Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa; through his legal team he has made media presentations in this situation and it was unnecessary if the EC has done his duty first. Hopefully he may have made notes of the evidence presented in the ongoing media campaign. Nevertheless it is natural for the citizens of the country to question as to why the nation has a glorified commissioner and an election commission. Are we to assume that checking the accuracy of information with regard to citizen ship is not in his job description? And what are the expressed and implied terms in his appointment letter? 

If alleged comments made to Daily Mirror are true, who is the authority responsible for verifying eligibility of the political candidates in Sri Lanka? The people deserve better than what they have received so far in return (for using their Tax money) from similar condescending government servants. On this issue, majority believes the buck stops in the EC’s office otherwise update to the election commissioner’s job description should be a priority of the government.

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Latest comments

  • 30
    2

    I went to renew my passport, after checking my nic, the officer said it’s not clear, I have to get another Nic. This I did and got my passport renewed. With all my documents, birth certificate, police report, Graham’s sevaka letter etc…
    Mind you it’s a renewal of the passport,
    Now President if the country, Nic is not verified, no need to be a citizen, or is it because the EC is biased.
    What kind of a donkey operation is this EC running, I was listening to him, and felt, he was clearly not suited for the job or he wants Gota to win hook or by crook.

    • 5
      29

      Jehan

      In your case, the nic wasn’t clear. so you wanted to renew.

      In Gota’s case, nic must have been clear so no request for renewal.

      That’s all

      & good to mention that passport officers function & EC’s function are different.

      EC’s work is different & straight forward.

      Don’t make a big fuss over a small matter.

      • 0
        0

        Real Revolutionist,
        This is the slave mentality, that is common to many down there.
        .
        If this would have been the case in Europe, Gotabaya would not have any chance to become the presidential nominee.

    • 14
      2

      W. Vishnu Gupta,

      “It is none of the business of the Election Commission to inquire about candidates’ citizenship and as such the EC had not asked them to furnish any documents pertaining to their citizenship, EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said.”

      “The above is a clear case of where a public servant has neglected his duties. Irrespective of his title and authority it is ground for disciplinary actions. This government officer should not be treated differently .”

      “Failing to perform his duties as required”

      Does this Public Servant, the Elections Commissioner know the constitution? Does he know that the applicant must be a Sri Lankan Citizen and does not have allegiance to a foreign country, as required by the constitution?

      https://www.wipo.int/edocs/lexdocs/laws/en/lk/lk007en.pdf

      The SL Constitution says:

      – The President of the Republic shall be elected by the people, and shall hold office for a term of six years.
      The election and the term of office of President.
      (1) Any citizen who is qualified to be elected to the office of President may be nominated as
      a candidate for such office .

      Can the EC read and comprehend the constitution? Even, the traffic policemen know to check the registration and the drivers license for validity.

      Is stupidity a virtue for the EC? Or is it that the EC is Rajapksa Mafia mole?

      A land like no other!

    • 5
      0

      W. Vishnu Gupta,

      Revoking US citizenship takes over one year – Swarna Gunaratne

      http://www.dailynews.lk/2019/11/13/local/202732/revoking-us-citizenship-takes-over-one-year-swarna-gunaratne

      “He is fooling the people. The whole citizenship process takes one to one and a half years. I was told in April that he was in Los Angles for friend’s wedding. It was only after coming back to Sri Lanka in April that he applied for the renunciation of his American citizenship. How can the process happen so quickly? He is fooling the people,” she said.

      Why is it possible got Gota to fool the populace? Mean IQ 79.

      The populace should use common sense, or whatever common sense is left.

    • 0
      0

      That is Sri Lanka … and you are Gotabaya 😂

    • 2
      0

      Last year, whilst on holiday in SL, I wanted to renew my SL passport. Being a dual citizen, I was told that my original NIC was invalid & that I will have to get a new NIC before I could apply for the renewal of my passport. I was unaware of this requirement when I applied for my SL passport soon after getting dual citizenship but it now caused a problem as I do not own property in SL. I stay with friends or rent an apartment when I come to SL, therefore, was unable to provide a permanent address in SL for the new NIC application. A friend of mine, who happened to be a senior Police Officer, was prepared to provide a statement that I was known to him throughout his life & that I often stay with him when in SL but the grama sevaka refused accept the statement as I was not in the electoral list. Having wasted several days at the passport office & visiting the grama sevaka office a few times (apparently he comes to office only on certain days), I returned to UK in disgust. However, despite the ‘stringent’ regulations in SL, I was able to get my passport renewed at the SL High Commission in London without a new NIC. Apart from having to take time off to travel to London & the inconvenience (to hand over the documents before noon) & the relatively higher cost of a new passport, I was able to get my passport renewed without any of the fuss. Obviously the bureaucracy in SL is to harass ordinary citizens because, if am not mistaken, GR was able to get a new SL passport, allegedly, even after closure of the counter at the passport office & probably without even a new NIC.

    • 0
      0

      Exactly, Mr Jehan,
      I am so shocked by the results of y day.
      Nevertheless people are in support of them.
      Why ?
      Lanken mind set is not grown enough to see it right. They talk about securityof the people, but no doubt, RAJAKASHES themselves were the architect of the 21 April Easter sunday attack to the churches in the country.
      :
      DJ _ the most critical voice on the disaster, should come forward yet today and express his heart out.
      Then the world can see it right.
      Now they will start take on revenge on and on… barbarians will never see it right the way people deserve to be treated with human dignity.

  • 12
    31

    If Sajith is good enough then people will vote him. Do not waste time on writing useless articles. GOTA does not have to produce anything that he is not a American citizen unless anybody makes a complaint objecting his elgibility. No one did that on OCT 7th. It is too late guys. Three more days for election. It looks like big majority of Sri Lankans want a leader who can make a change.

    • 15
      3

      charles,
      I think that you are not straight forward enough. your response should have been: “Who cares? I will vote even if Idi Amin comes from MaRa side”!

    • 0
      2

      Who ever come to power must not forget to respect Majority

      JVP never come to power.
      Every body in Sri lanka must learn Sinhalese. English required because it is a business language.
      Any party who come yo form government must make it mandatory Sinhalese writing and speaking. Sri lanka is not a place to promote other religion or languages of extremists groups also ministries for other religions mus to be dismantlement. Sinhalese majority are threatened by all front; region wise, language wise, and physically.

      Anything Tamil Tigers want to impose on Sri lanka such as language under pretext of discrimination should not be allowed. Language and provincial system are used by Tamil Tigers to make historical claims . This should not be allowed.
      Tamil in the north can use Tamil language. But not East. still should be required to learn Sinhalese like
      India USA and Germany etc.
      Tamil have no problem learning other languages and desperately conspired and killed 100 hundred thousand Sinhalese to prolong stay in the Western counties to be qualified as refugee

    • 2
      0

      “It looks like big majority of Sri Lankans want a leader who can make a change.”

      In ‘wonderful’ Sri Lanka, that person is yet to be born!

    • 0
      4

      While fully agreeing with Charles, may I say this: Gota is a product of Sri Lanka but some vital parts of this product are assembled in the US. This is exactly what Sri Lankans had been looking for due to grave errors on their previous ‘made in Sri Lanka’ products since 1948. This time they have found the right product and it has come to the market on the right time.

    • 0
      3

      Yes, there was ample time to object. Why didn’t they? We witnessed this lethargic attitude during the last 4 years.

    • 0
      0

      Whether Gota wins or loses is entirely a different matter. What is relevant is whether the candidate is qualified. If he is not qualified and still able to contest it is not Gota’s fault but that of authorities appointed by the state to verify these requirements are met. If the electorate has been deliberately mislead it is a grave injustice to the voters and the Nation. On the other hand if Gota was ignorant of this basic qualification voters are entitled to question whether such a person has the intellect to be their leader.

      • 2
        0

        Sensible

        In this island only those who entertain death wish would challenge Gota/clan before or after elections.

    • 0
      1

      Sajith is not good enough.

  • 18
    0

    From the very beginning when GR’s citizenship issues arose (revocation of US citizenship by US Government and restoration of Sri Lankan citizenship by our government), Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has been conducting himself in the most cavalier fashion. Is it not the responsibility of the Elections Commissioner to check if all of the citizenship and nationality documents of a person purporting to be a citizen of this country files his nomination papers to contest the presidential election as a candidate?

    The Elections Commissioner has been totally derelict in his duties and betrayed the trust reposed in him by the citizens. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution clearly states that a dual citizen of another country is not eligible to stand for any elected position in the government. If it is not the EC’s business to ensure compliance with this rule then whose job is it?

    I think a lot of money must have passed hands!

    • 13
      0

      If Pujitha ( IGP) has been remanded for neglect of duty why can’ the election commissioner for not ascertaining the Citizenship of Gotha. Here too there were controversies with regard to Gotha’s citizenship and it was the duty of the EC to have gone into it before accepting Gotha’s nomination. There are lots of similarities between Pujtha’s and election commissioner’s conduct- a never mind attitude.

  • 6
    1

    I suppose the Election Commissioner only conveys to the public who wins and who loses. Should a candidate win it is not he that bestows the winning title on the winner.

    I guess this is why it is being said in social media circles that GR can contest and win, but whether he can be bestowed the President title is another matter.

    • 0
      0

      Then who does?

  • 17
    0

    Not only has the caliber of our politicians dropped badly over the past few decades, but the quality of our public servants has also dropped very badly. Incompetence, irresponsibility, and corruption rule the roost everywhere and every day in the body politic!

  • 2
    9

    This article starts with the lines ‘the following statement has been attributed to Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Election Commissioner’ and then continues to blackguard the EC. The sheep follow suit in the comments. Has anybody asked the EC whether he actually said those words? No.
    See what Amare means about 71% IQ?

    • 9
      0

      EA: Even if the Election Commissioner did not utter those words, the policy he has been following is fully in keeping with the utterance attributed to him. Some people are very elusive and refuse to state their position unequivocally so the public can only infer their motives from their actions. Of course, people with an IQ of 71 cannot figure this out on their own!

    • 7
      0

      EA,
      The slightest suspicion of irregularity in this election should be expeditiously investigated, before polling begins.
      It is not too late.

  • 15
    2

    If you do not check any criminal could contest, This is a joke of Sri Lankan EC. Very sad to see him to fool 22 million Lankans. He is a public servant. He is trying to help Gota by this so sad to so,

  • 14
    0

    The 19th amendment to the Constitution changed the rules as to who is eligible to be a candidate for the Presidency. As such, there are the following duties and obligations:

    1) The applicant must ensure he/she is eligible to be a candidate under the prevalent provisions of the Constitution before making such an application
    2) The EC, when accepting the applications to be a candidate, should have processes and mechanisms in place to ensure such applicants have complied and met the prevalent requirements for eligibility

    If any party, feels aggrieved then that party is free to:

    1) seek information per ‘right to information’ provisions of the Act
    2) make an appeal through the court system

    Unless, there is ‘prima facie’ evidence of a flagrant violation of any provisions, it is prudent to permit the applicants to contest, so they do not feel their ‘rights’ have been infringed. If that person wins the election, then surely that applicant will be subjected to the rigors of a closer scrutiny (which can end up in an appeal made to the Justice system in Sri Lanka).

    It is likely, in the unlikely event of a NGR win, his eligibility to be a candidate will receive closer scrutiny, given the reported uncertainties / controversies surrounding his citizenship status. Oh dear, how much baggage this man is carrying! He is not worthy to be a candidate!!

    There have been reports that NGR voted in the 2005 Presidential election, while he was not a citizen of the country at the time. Wonder if this complaint has been investigated by the EC? It appears, MR&Co is able get away with various irregularities and are above the laws of the land? Who are protecting them? Laws and regulations should apply the same way for ALL citizens.

  • 13
    0

    Oh God, what a sorry and terrible situation! This is the kind and caliber of public servants we have? Pathetic and utter joke. How dire he could say such thing – it’s none of his business. It’s terribly wrong and a great offence for all for him to say such thing. Even for a simple driving licence, they thoroughly ascertained the authenticity and proper bonafide of the prospective candidate for the fate and safety of so many persons both inside and outside the vehicles going to be in his hands. If some clean, honest and level headed person sitting on that chair as the Chairman of the Election Commission wouldn’t have accepted this person’s nomination papers until and unless he clears up all the pending cases at the courts of law against him and sorts out this citizenship issues for once and for all. This is not the kidding matter but to elect the person on whose hands the destiny and fate of this nation and it’s 22 millions inhabitant going to rest. This is more than enough to unseat this person from that office for he has will fully and thoroughly neglected his duty by the nation and it’s people. Also this sorts of attitudes and actions of him should definitely and clearly compromise the integrity of the whole election process and going to inflict great damage to the country as whole.

  • 11
    0

    The election should be postponed unless/until the citizenship of all candidates could be verified even now, by the Commission, before polling begins.
    A few minutes/hours are surely available.
    If the Election Commissioner refuses, he should be removed and one of the other two appointed to the post.
    The present president should order this.

    • 1
      0

      Mmm, not a bad idea as it’s unknown that whether the EC has studied the genuineness of citizenship thoroughly of the 35 candidates.

      Why should it be limited to Gota’s citizenship?

      President will be very happy as it’ll extend his life as the president of the country.

  • 5
    0

    The EC also said that the candidate has to provide an affidavit in front of a Justice of Peace. That is all they are looking for. I don’t know whether the signed JP is a real or fake and whether the EC checked that as well.
    I have a question for the law experts who may be able to clarify my doubt. For example, if Gotabaya wins this election and get the appointment as an executive president and then if it is found that he did not give up his USA citizenship then is it possible to charge him in a court according to constitution. According to Constitution President has the immunity from both criminal or civil proceedings.

    • 1
      0

      Wasn’t the immunity removed with the 19th Amendment? If not it should be done .

    • 0
      0

      Ajit!
      Today JPs can be bought over for money. There were so many JPs seated in the earlier passport office at Punci Borella who certifies the Information given in the application for passports. Of course for a fee. JP doesn’t know the background of the applicant’s information. While not casting any aspersions on all JP’s, care and caution have to be exercised in the accuracy of the certification. To-day even Judges, MP’s and Ministers too have become questionable characters. Therefore where do we start and where do we end.

  • 6
    2

    Dear Readers of CT

    It is reported today in the media that ; “The Embassy of the United States in Colombo said an individual is no longer considered a citizen of the US once he receives the certificate affirming the renunciation the citizenship while adding the such individual’s name to the federal list is a separate process”

    I believe it is an authentic clarification. Anyone holding the position should have been aware of the processes followed by the foreign governments with regard to renunciation of the citizenship. In this campaign there were two names Mr. Nagananda Kodituwakku (British Passport holder) and Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa (American Passport Holder) Mr. Nagananda is irrelevant to this discussion now. But as citizens of Sri Lanka, we should know whether EC has made any effort to learn the due process followed by the above two countries.
    His inaction and subsequent comments have opened the floodgates to the spin doctors and it is a worrying factor to anyone believe in fairness and justice. As I said before, Mr. Rajapaksa may be the victim of the callous statements made by certain politicians and the media circuses. Let’s not pollute the minds of the voters with misinformation.
    VG

    • 2
      0

      Visnu Gupta,
      I don’t know which media that reported this US embassy communication. You should have clearly mentioned the name of the media. But still US embassy did not tell whether the Gotabaya Rajapakse was issued that certificate. Why then the Rajapakse group and USA failed failed to show that until last day? It is not about polluting the voters. It is more about giving the correct information to the voter. Every citizen knows well that Gotabaya was brought to Strengthen Rajapakse Family. They have a history of lieing, bribing and cheating. A good example is the passport issued to Kauna by the former defence minister and current SLPP presidential candidate.

  • 0
    0

    Gamini: I am glad, you have attempted to bring some sanity into this contentious issue of “GR’s citizenship”. To begin with the Election Commission works within the Laws and Regulations that govern all the elections of the country. On the day of the Nominations are to be accepted, there is given a window of opportunity to raise “Objections” in regard to any or all of the nominations. Within that “Time Frame” any one has the legal right to raise and “Objection”. If anyone, raised an “Objection”, the Election Commissioner, as the “Authority” to accept nominations , will consider such objections within the “Provisions” stipulated in the Act of Elections, and he will give his decision in keeping with such provisions. In this instance, it is note worthy that NO ONE raised or registered an “OBJECTION” to GR’s nomination. If there was no objection raised, why should EC , “OPT” to scrutinize nominations, “OUTSIDE” his purview, that do not authorize him to decide upon. For your information, the Election Act, stipulates the “RULES” (instances) under which the EC can decide. All other “Objections”, if not come within such rules, and not raised can only be canvassed , later in an appropriate Court. Perhaps, this may be the “REASON” why no one “Raised” any objection, when that opportunity was given at the moment of accepting nominations. Everyone (all the Legal Professionals representing the nominees were present that day and time) knew that this matter of ‘Citizenship” cannot be questioned from the EC and he cannot decide on it. Having said that, I also notice that EC has required that all the Nominees attach a “Legal Affidavit” to the Nomination Paper. Do we know what that “Affidavit” contained?

  • 2
    0

    If the EC say’s verifying the nationality of the contestant is not their job why the hell they insist for voters to produce identity when they come for voting. What an irony; foreigners can contest the election but the voters have to be the nationals. Stupidity to the square.

    • 0
      0

      Exactly. These Public Servants should be sent out to pasture to graze and disappear.

  • 0
    2

    Gota can be anything but not a fool. He may have got the renunciation certificate… but for some reason not showing it to the media.

  • 1
    0

    Reading some of the comments saying don’t write articles such as this clearly portrays the setiments of a slave mentality
    If one is to by the paper trail no files at immigration, serial number is not one that has continuity,no receipt nor any record of payment for dual citizenship

    All have been disclosed in court yet this American whose court case in August in California clearly shows that his lawyers never took the defense that he is not an American is proof enough that he is fooling the people of our land
    Sad the legal system doesn’t see it that way

    Candidates brother Basil confirmed he is a dual citizen
    How then or why then should we listen to people who have one foot in America and tell us this place is ideal

    People open your eyes don’t even send any Rajapakse to the seat of governance
    They are here to squeeze our people’s blood and deposit the spoils in America

  • 1
    5

    Gota is a well organised person. Why would he with all his advisors do the wrong thing? His campaign is also different. For example, no posters and cut-outs…

    Let the people decide in this peaceful election…

    • 4
      1

      Siva,
      Yes Gota is a well organised criminal. No one caught him to the murder of Lasantha or the issue of fake passport to Kauna to travel UK. Are you criticising his Brother Mahinda Rajapakse who put his posters and cut-outs throughout the country in 2010 and 2015?

  • 0
    0

    MACO proved that his English is poor.. he said “I not interest” grammatically wrong. This shows he cannot read and understand English. When the document was shown to him in English he and the other two Commissioners should have noticed that the Citizenship surrender document has been signed at the bottom on April 17th 2019, but on top right the actual date of surrender of Citizenship is described as May 3rd 2019. This shows that the certificate presented is a forgery as no US Govt dept or Embassy would issue a certificate ahead of the actual surrender date. All three Election Commissioners have failed in their job. Its clearly stated in the Constitution that no dual citizen or foreign citizen can contest the Presidential election and its the duty of the nomination accepting officers to verify this.

  • 1
    0

    Gotha will find out how rough the sea is. It is going to be very tough.

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