Posted on May 13th, 2020

Palitha Mapatuna

As authorised by the constitution, a proclamation was issued by the president, whereby dissolution was made of (the last) parliament. He also, per requirement, made stipulation of the dates of the following resulting general election and convening of the new parliament.

However, subsequent intervening of unforeseen circumstances in Sri Lanka (Covid 19) made meeting the aforesaid dates not possible.

These circumstances were beyond the control of the president and it is, therefore, apparent that he would be absolved of the necessity of adhering to these dates, as it is not possible to do so.


The general election and convening of the new parliament are dependent on the dissolution and not vice-versa. The election and convening are secondary and functionally different to the dissolution.

Again, if one conceives dissolution, election and convening as three parts of a hierarchical structure and in that order of precedence, a change in the latter two will leave the first part intact.

The validity of the proclamation and consequent dissolution derives from constitutional authority in the president and, assuming the proper procedure had been followed, these will remain unimpaired due to necessary postponement of dates.

Devoid of ‘stories’ that may cloud basic principles, the essential position seems as above.

It appears that, in the circumstances, the commission of elections would need to hold elections when conducive to do so, relying on Sections 24(3) and 129 of the Parliament Elections Act (No. 1 of 1981).

Covid 19 and the related circumstances are extra-ordinary occurrence. It cannot be reasonably expected that provision had been made for them in the law. As such, and if required, the ‘doctrine of necessity’ may need to be utilised.

Palitha Mapatuna

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