The Judicial battle resumed against President Maithripala Sirisena following the filing of an interim petition by TNA MP MA Sumanthiran for intervention with the Supreme Court claiming that the head of state has no jurisdiction to call Provincial Council (PC) election without delimitation of electorates.
The petition was filed with regard to the reference application by President seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court if the law permits the PC elections to be held in the absence of the Report on Delimitation of Electorates.
In his petition, MP Sumanthiran says that in accordance with the Provincial Council Election (Amendment) Act No.17 of 2017 delimitation of electorates is mandatory.
He, accordingly, seeks the Supreme Court to deliver an order stating that the PC elections cannot be held without delimiting the electoral constituents.
President Sirisena wants to ascertain from the Supreme Court whether he could conduct PC polls after gazetting the Delimitation Report and under the previous Proportional Representation (PR) system.
The Delimitation Committee report has already been rejected unanimously by Parliament. Consequently, a new mixed electoral system of first past the post and PR is now on hold.
Though officially ready, a possible PC poll could easily place the opposition parties in a disarray.
The announcement made by opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa that he will make former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa as its candidate for the presidential election, the events effectively trigger the opposition’s election campaign, depending on the SC determination.
Accordingly a five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, and consisting of Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Sisira de Abrew, Prasanna Jayawardena, and Vijith K. Malalgoda will take up the President’s request on 23 August.
President Sirisena has sought a determination from the Supreme Court on whether the Provincial Council elections can be conducted in line with the proportional representation system, which existed before the Provincial Councils (Amendment) Act which was passed in 2017.
The Supreme Court is expected to deliver its opinion to the President before the end of August