20 November, 2019

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Writ Petition Charges Election Commission For Making False Assertions Over Advertising

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.

Election Commissioners

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

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Latest comments

  • 25
    0

    I think the basis of the EC is that these are to captive audiences over which the viewer has no control to switch off or consciously select to watch or not. Hence it becomes an enforced pressure on an individual and his civil liberty at the cinema or on the road.

    • 3
      0

      I see the article and only one comment so far – by Bandu W. And it is an intelligent comment.
      .
      Any discussion on this subject should be related not just to Election-related advertising but to all advertising. Just now I tried to read an article from the Indian newspaper, “The Hindu” that was listed here:
      .
      http://www.infolanka.com/news/
      .
      It was about our Sri Lankan elections. I was denied access on the grounds that I had activated an “ad-blocker.”
      .
      https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/an-election-dilemma-in-sri-lanka/article29779146.ece
      .
      This happens so often now, mostly with foreign news-sites. Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s dream of a free internet is being destroyed. The truly free websites ask for “donations” -which we hardly ever give.
      .
      There obviously are two sides to this. Revenue is necessary. The “simplest” solution is to allow unrestricted advertising; the result is the brain-washing of the average citizen – and that includes me. Solution? I can’t think of anything simple.
      .
      Our whole way of life, and the way we think of economic development has to change.

      • 6
        2

        Its not only foreign media, for example look at Derana website. It allows comments on Ranil, Sajith and UNP but blocks all comments on Mahinda and his gang of SLPP thieves and Gotabaya. What a shame. Election Commission should immediately look into Derana allowing some and blocking others. Similarly Island, Hiru and Ceylon Today do not allow comments but the only publishing they do is against Sajith and Ranil.

    • 4
      0

      I would suggest that all Digital Advertising with regard to products, services, and politics should be avoided in important/ busy junctions or intersections, to avoid accidents.

  • 1
    8

    I always thought we the Sri Lankan’s are lucky than other Muslims countries fratricide and inside family feud are common.. They infection has spread to SL muslims are started to fight among themselves. It is very sad they are minority they should be united to fight with Buddhist extremism.

    • 4
      1

      Why should they fight with anybody at all?

    • 8
      1

      Joseph rajah,

      Sri Lankan Muslims, mean IQ 79, like the rest of the populace, unfortunately have started to follow the Satan following Wahhabi Salafies and Clones, per prescient Hadith of Najd, and are turning the good old Earth into a living hell for Muslims and others.

      They need to give up Wahhabisam Salafism and it’s clones Satanic Ideology.’

      • 0
        0

        Amarasiri,

        I have no clue of what is this wahabaisam salafism. Can you eloborate on it pls!

    • 0
      0

      JR
      Fratricide!
      Read some pages of the history of this country which have text on patricide as well.

  • 4
    0

    This media organization has to fix wipers for this so called LED screens to clean the screen from spites from general public. MACO has done a favor and if the court decides otherwise there should be a way to reach screens for general public to display their displeasure.

  • 1
    0

    I realize that this is a bit ‘off-topic’, but cannot resist mentioning that Election Commission member N. J. Abeysekara who appears in the picture above appears to be a truely innocuous person, who cannot say ‘BOO’ to a goose! Not a desirable quality for an Election Commissioner!

  • 0
    2

    In a nation that boasts of over 90 per cent literacy,
    an Election Commission is the arbiter of what
    would be voters should read is highly deplorable.

    However, there is also a darker side. Money is being
    spent to influence opinion. Where does one draw
    the line?

    Perhaps the answer is to educate the public and NOT
    simply impose bans. Some of the EC orders do carry
    a high element of stupidity. They insist coverage should
    be equal to all candidates.

    That means Gotaba Rajapaksa, Sajith Premadasa and
    ASP Liyanage should receive the same volume of
    publicity. The media has no right, according to EC, to
    decide on the basis of public interest on the front line
    candidates and also rans.

    They should first go through a course in how to deal with
    the media instead of making stupid conclusions on
    the basis of the power they enjoyed. Otherwise, it would
    be a joke.

  • 4
    0

    Such advertising (and so many other excesses) occurred in 2014/15 without any restrictions. How is it there is action being taken in 2019 for such malpractices? That clearly reflects positive changes that have occurred since January 2015. Anyone is free to go to courts and challenge any decision with the consummate knowledge that justice will be served by an Independent Judiciary. In the past, there was a time when judgements were issued from Temple Trees!

    One thing is certain – the election will be mostly free and fair and so we must accept the result without any acrimony

  • 1
    0

    The petition filed by Emerging Media (Private) Limited states that the decision of the Election Commission has “adversely affected the business activities carried out by the petitioner”.
    What next? They be permitted to advertise anything, however provocative, to increase business.
    .
    The petitioners request an interim order to prevent the respondents from taking any action “until the final determination of the matter”
    The Supreme Court must decide as to whether the respondents acted in good faith or not.

  • 0
    5

    Is the boss guy bending to see whether Dr Ranil is behind those petioners ?….

  • 7
    1

    Good job by EC. All these digital billboards should be removed.

    Also murderer (and guy who took money from heroin dealer,) duminda silva’s brothers channel, ranils brothers channel and drug trafficke’rs derana channel should be banned..

  • 2
    0

    Media must be vested in the hands of EC when an election is announced.

  • 4
    0

    There is much more to this than meets the eye.Emerging Media [Private ] Limited have something up their sleeve.

    Incidentally, Prof: S.A.Pakeham, a historian of Prof:G.C.Mendis era famously remarked in one of his writings that the ceylonese[ Srilankans] are a highly litigious people.
    They all run to the courts at the drop of a hat!

  • 1
    0

    No ethics in SL media, they are all going for shopping for somebody. The Election Commission should monitor them during election times, penalise them for their dirty and unethical conducts, and clean up the system for the good of all.

  • 2
    0

    Election commission must have control over media. Otherwise, it will be “BOLSANARO – EFFECT ” in Sri Lanka too.

  • 0
    0

    There are two sides to a coin. Just as much as the prohibition is likely to adversely affect the business, what about the average person on the streets. He must have the freedom not be stormed and swamped by these advertisements, particularly when he is disappointed with the set of nominees presented to the voter. SMS advertisements only fill your phone memory. Some advertisers do have the courtesy to provide an option for the user not to receive their advertisements. Billboards are a real eye sore and can be considered as the electronic form of posters. There may not be a direct law for the prohibition but I hope the courts will also decide what is just and fair and provide a balanced approach. Clearly NO SMSS and no electronic Billboards making this election a public nuisance.

  • 1
    0

    Giving high-tech gloss to the revolting visages of criminal politicians by putting them on digital LED screens on roads would be a terrible insult to the roadside cement Buddhas.

  • 1
    0

    I think such ban on LED advertisement is reasonable. Because there is no mechanism to monitor and control equal opportunity for all candidate.

    Election should not be a business tool to advertisers to exploit.

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