EC not empowered to ask NL MPs for asset declarations – Chairman
Posted on June 13th, 2022

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Chairman of Election Commission Nimal Punchihewa yesterday (11) said that there was no legal requirement for a National List MP to submit his or her asset declaration before the EC accepted nomination made by a political party.

Attorney-at-Law Punchihewa said so responding to The Island query whether he had received asset declaration from newly-appointed SLPP MP Dhammika Perera before the issuance of gazette notification pertaining to his appointment.

The SLPP last Friday (10) nominated Perera to fill the vacancy created by Basil Rajapaksa’s resignation.Responding to another query, the EC Chairman said that the EC hadn’t received asset declarations from those who had been appointed National List MPs previously. Basil Rajapaksa, Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, PC, Saman Ratnapriya and Jayantha Ketagoda hadn’t submitted their asset declarations to the EC.

In the absence of required constitutional or electoral provisions, the EC couldn’t even ask for asset declarations from National list nominees, Punchihewa acknowledged. According to the EC’s former Director Legal as well as one-time member of the Human Rights Council, the law pertaining to asset declarations didn’t impact on National List MPs.

The EC Chairman said that the Parliament would have to look into this matter. As regards Dhammika Perera, the Parliament would have to obtain his asset declaration. Punchihewa strongly denied Perera, widely believed to be one of Sri Lanka’s richest persons, received special treatment.

Punchihewa said that he was not aware of civil society activist Rajith Keerthi Tennakon requesting the EC to deny recognition until Dhammika Perera handed over his asset declaration.Tennakoon said that the EC lacked the courage to take a stand on this matter of utmost importance. The EC couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for being the guardian of the voters’ right, Tennakoon said, urging the Parliament and the EC to take tangible measures to scrutinize MPs. Pointing out that the National List had been introduced way back in 1989, Keerthi said that the claim appointed MPs were not required to submit asset declarations underscored the pathetic state of affairs.

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