"Amended Local Govt. Ordinance in order"- Supreme Court

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 February 2002, 19:31 GMT]
The Supreme Court has held that the amended draft Local Government Ordinance bill, which empowers the Commissioner of Elections to postpone elections to local authorities under extra ordinary circumstances in certain areas, is not contrary to the present Constitution.The Speaker Mr.Joseph Michael Perera Tuesday informed the determination of the SC when the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Mr.Alick Aluwihare tabled the amended draft bill in parliament.

The Leader of the Opposition Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse then moved that the debate on the amended bill should be held on a later date enabling parliamentarians to study it to ensure that whether it respects the people's supremacy.

Mr.Rajapakse pointed out that according to the amended bill the Commissioner of Elections has been empowered to postpone local government elections in certain areas based on reports submitted by the respective district returning officers.

Mr.Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Labour argued that according to the determination of the Supreme Court, the amended bill had not violated the rights of the people or the present Constitution. Furthermore the decision to amend the present Local Government Ordinance was taken at a meeting presided by President Chandrika Kumaratunge.

Mr.Mahinda Samarasinghe reminded the House that it was the President who referred the amended draft bill to the Supreme Court for its determination to ensure whether it contravenes the basic concepts of the democracy.

Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)parliamentarian Mr.Wimal Weerawanse blamed the government for tabling the amended draft bill in the House in contrary to the agreement reached at meeting of leaders of political parties represented in parliament.

He warned that JVP would boycott meetings of political party leaders in future if the government acted in contravention of decisions taken at such meetings.

The Speaker adjourned the sittings for half an hour on a suggestion made by the Leader of the House Justice Minister Mr.W.J.M.Loku Bandara to reach a consensus among parties to fix a date for the debate on the amended draft bill.

When the sitting resumed the Speaker informed that the amended draft bill would be taken up for debate tomorrow (Wednesday).

Tamil National Alliance had already requested the United National Front government to postpone the forthcoming local government elections in the Northeast to prevail a healthy political atmosphere to take forward the present peace efforts smoothly. Tamil parties expect that the passage of the amended draft bill would empower the Commissioner of Elections to postpone local elections in Northeast. But the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna is opposing the postponement of elections.

 

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