A writ petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Election Commission’s decision to prohibit two modes of election advertisements.
The petition filed by Emerging Media (Private) Limited states that the decision taken by the respondent officials of the Election Commission to ban the promotion of Presidential candidates on digital LED screens on roads, and in cinema halls, has adversely affected the business activities carried out by the petitioner.
The petition has cited Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya (First Respondent), Commission Members N. J. Abeysekara (Second Respondent) and Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole (Third Respondent) and Director General Saman Sri Rathnayake (Fourth Respondent).
The Petitioner states that although it wrote to the First Respondent Election Commission and sought an immediate clarification as to under which provision of the election law such restrictions related advertisements on digital LED screens and at cinema halls have been banned but has not received a response to the said request at the time of filing of the application.
The Petitioner states that as there is no express statutory prohibition placed on digital advertising including accepting advertisements for a fee for display on Digital LED Screens or at Cinema Halls inasmuch as there is no statutory prohibition in relation to electronic advertising over radio and/or television and/or telephone and/or Short Message Services (SMS) and/or other communications platforms and/or over social media and/or via the internet and that the prohibitions placed in the Presidential Elections Act No. 2 of 1981 does not extend such advertising over electronic modes of advertising including Digital LED Screens and Cinema Halls.
The Petitioner states that therefore, in fact, the assertion of the First to Third Respondents that entering into contracts for advertising over Digital LED Screens and Cinema Halls is a punishable offense under the elections law is false and false to the knowledge of the First to Fourth Respondents.
The Petitioner avers that the purported decision of the First to Third Respondents to prohibit taking election related advertisements for display/publication on Digital LED Screens and at Cinema Halls is arbitrary, grossly unreasonable, absurd, contrary to the rules of natural justice and is violative of the right to equal protection of the law as guaranteed by Article 12(1) of the Constitution and the right to lawful trade, business or enterprise as guaranteed by Article 14(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Republic.
The Petitioners have sought a Writ of Certiorari quashing the purported decision of the First to Third Respondents to notify the public that it is an election offense to advertise election advertising on Digital LED Screens and Cinema Halls as communicated to the public and a Writ of Prohibition preventing the First to Third Respondents from taking any action against the Petitioner and/or preventing the Petitioner from lawfully engaging in election advertising on Digital LED Screens and/or Cinema Halls based on the directives issued by the Commission.
The petitioners request an interim order to prevent the First to Third Respondents from taking any action against the Petitioner and/or preventing the Petitioner from lawfully engaging in election advertising on Digital LED Screens and Cinema Halls … until the final determination of the matter.
Read the petition here