AG objects to writ challenging gazette

The Attorney General appearing on behalf of Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, United National Party, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and PAFFREL organisation yesterday raised objections in the Court of Appeal.

This is regarding 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 Court of Appeal three-judge-Bench comprising Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya, Justice Kumuduni Wickremasinghe and Justice Shiran Gunaratne fixed the matter for November 22 to decide whether court should grant an interim relief or not.

Six electors representing several Local Government institutions have filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal challenging the legality of a Gazette Notification dated February 17, 2017 ammending the boundaries, number of members and the constituents in respect of Local Authorities.

Deputy Solicitor General Arjuna Obeysekara appearing on behalf of Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha raised preliminary objections against the writ petition urging the Court to dismiss it in limine.

He further argued that the subject matter of this petition cannot be heard in the Court of Appeal owing to lack of jurisdiction and stated that this matter should be referred to the Supreme Court, acting in terms of Article 125 of the Constitution.

DSG Obeysekara further said the petitioners have challenged the franchise rights of the people delaying to hold the local government election.

This petition had been filed by six electors representing the Colombo Municipal Council, Kandy Municipal Council, Paduwasnuwara Pradeshiya Sabha, Hali-Ela Pradeshiya Sabha and Embilipitiya Pradeshiya Sabha.

The petitioners cited Faiszer Musthapha, the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government and the Secretary to Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government as respondents.

The petitioners are seeking an Interim Order suspending the operation of the Gazette Notification bearing No.2006/44 dated February 17,2017 until the final determination of this application.

The petitioners stated that a National Delimitation Committee has been established with a mandate to make recommendations to the Minister of Local Government for the division of local authority areas to the wards and to determine the boundaries of each ward and assign a name and number of each such ward.

The petitioners stated that if any electoral process commenced in terms of the Gazette Notification which has been promulgated by the Minister ultra vires the powers vested on him in terms of Section 3D of Local Authorities Election Ordinance, irreparable loss and damage would be caused to the petitioners.

The petitioners stated that several wards in the Colombo Municipal Council which were designed as multi-member wards have been re-designed as wards which only elect one member to the council.

The petitioners stated 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.

Counsel Yasas de Silva appeared for UNP. Counsel Chamara Nanayakkarawasam with Sunil Watagala appeared for the JVP.

Counsel Chrisma Warnasuriya with Manjula Balasuriya appeared for the PAFFREL organisaion. 

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