The Supreme Court yesterday fixed for mention on 28 February the fundamental rights petition seeking to hold the Local Government Elections within a timeframe specified by the Court.
The Bench comprised Justices Eva Wanasundera, Sisira J. De Abrew and Anil Gooneratne.
The fundamental rights petition was filed by the People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) seeking to hold the Local Authorities Elections forthwith or within a timeframe provided by the Court.
The petitioner cited Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha, Secretary of the Ministry, the Elections Commission, members of the Delimitation Committee and the Attorney General as respondents.
The petitioner states that the Minister or the other respondents has continuously postponed or delayed the local government elections which were to be held in 2015 and 2016.
It states that the Elections Commission has failed to hold the elections when the Local Authorities Election has specifically provided the general election to select representatives of the people for the local government institution should be held within a period of four months preceding the date on which the terms of office of members who are to be elected is due to commence.
One or more or all of the respondents denying the rights of citizens to select their representatives to perform legislative and executive power at a local level is violating the fundamental rights of the citizen arbitrarily and illegally, it laments.
In the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, local governance was specifically recognised and after the said amendment, the legislative and executive power of the people has been devolved from the Central Government to Provincial Councils and to local government institutions, it points out.
The local government institutions represent the sovereign power of the people and are part and parcel of the same, he underscores.
At this instance, the exercise, performance and discharge of all the rights, privileges, powers, duties and functions vested in on all local authorities are exercised by government officers who are neither the representatives nor elected by the people to exercise the sovereign power of the people, it bemoans.
Asthika Devendra with Danuka Nandasiri, instructed by Mangala Balasuriya, appeared for the petitioner.
Romesh de Silva PC with Sugath Caldera appeared for the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government. Riad Ameen appeared for the members of the Delimitation Committee. Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle appeared for the Elections Commissioner and the Attorney General.