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Attorney General to study delimitation gazette

Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya PC yesterday appointed a three member committee comprising Senior State Counsel to look into all legal aspects pertaining to the Delimitation Gazette Notification.

The Gazette Notification was issued by the Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister on the Delimitation Committee Report with regard to the boundaries in respect of Local Authorities.

The Court of Appeal last Wednesday issued an Interim Order suspending the operation of the Gazette Notification dated February 17, 2017 on the Delimitation Committee Report, until December 4.

The Court made this order consequent to a writ petition filed by six electors who challenged the legality of the Gazette Notification issued by Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government on the Delimitation Committee Report with regard to the boundaries in respect of Local Authorities.

The Attorney General told the Daily News that one of the senior counsel looking into the issue was involved in handling matters relating to the writ petition and two others handling local government laws and regulations.

The Attorney General went on to say that he had appointed the three member committee since the Attorney General’s Department is an intervening party to the writ petition filed in the Appeal Court against the local government elections delimitation gazette.

Last Friday, the Attorney General had reportedly agreed to submit a motion today (Monday) requesting to advance the hearing of the petition before the Court of Appeal to November 30, without waiting till December 4. The Attorney General had reportedly said that he would submit a motion on Monday at a special Party Leaders’ Meeting held in Parliament on Friday.

The meeting took place at the Speaker’s Office soon after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrived in Parliament after his visit to India. Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya too attended.

Last Wednesday the Court of Appeal three-judge-Bench comprising Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya, Justice Kumuduni Wickremasinghe and Justice Shiran Gunaratne observed that in promulgating the Gazette Notification, the Minister of Local Government has acted ultra vires the powers vested in him under section 3D of the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance.

The Court further held that if any electoral process commenced in terms of the concerned gazette notification, irreparable damage would be caused to the people’s franchise rights. The Court also issued notices on the respondents to appear in Court on December 4.

Meanwhile, the Elections Commission on Saturday decided to announce nominations dates, for the conduct of elections for 93 Local Government bodies with no legal obstacles. The district returning officers will issue notice calling for nominations for 93 undisputed local government bodies on Monday, the Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya had said, following a meeting attended by all commission members.

Deshapriya on Saturday had said, “the Appeal Court stayed the gazette notice issued by the Minister in February. It refers to only 203 LG bodies of the 336 (announced by the President).

Deshapriya had added, “the stay order had no bearing on 133 LG bodies. There were typos in the gazette in relation to 40 LG bodies. Before the elections can be held, these mistakes need to be amended.

“But we did not want to further delay the polls, therefore, we decided to issue the notice of intent to hold elections for the 93 LG bodies on schedule,” he said.