Sri Lanka's apex court rejects pleas against President's gazette, parliamentary polls

Colombo, Jun 2 (PTI) Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected all petitions challenging the gazette issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolving Parliament and the date of the general elections announced by the National Election Commission.

President Rajapaksa on March 2 dissolved the Parliament, six months ahead of schedule, and called for snap elections on April 25. However, the election commission in mid-April postponed the elections by nearly two months to June 20 due to the coronavirus outbreak in the island nation.

The Election Commission's decision to hold the election on June 20 was challenged in the apex court by Opposition parties and civil society activists.

They filed 9 petitions in the court.

After 10 days of hearing, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed all petitions and refused to grant leave to proceed.

The petitions argued that Rajapaksa’s March 2 gazette was invalid as the Parliament could not be met within the three months period stipulated in the Constitution. Ironically, the three months time during which Parliament must meet expires on June 2.

The elections commission would now be able to fix a new date.

National Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said on Monday that the NEC has already informed the Supreme Court through its lawyers that the election cannot be held on 20 June because of issues related to the coronavirus.

The NEC members would meet on Wednesday to announce the fresh date to elect the 225-member assembly for its five-year term, officials said. PTI CORR ZH ZH