It is unlikely that Finance Ministry would release sufficient funds: EC
Posted on March 13th, 2023

Courtesy The Daily Mirror

A highly disappointed chairman of the Election Commission (EC) Nimal G. Punchihewa yesterday lamented that it is unlikely that the Finance Ministry would release sufficient funds to the EC to conduct Local Council (LC) polls as ordered by the highest court in the country and therefore the only remedy is to seek redress from the Supreme Court once again as a last resort.

But it has to be done by the petitioners – the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) – who obtained the Supreme Court ruling that ordered the Finance Ministry to release funds to the EC promptly, he added.

We as the EC, the constitutionally mandated authority to conduct elections in time are ready to put our side of the story before the Supreme Court if and when the SJB moves the Supreme Court to take further action in respect of the Treasury’s continuous repudiation of the Supreme Court interim order,” Mr. Punchihewa told Daily Mirror last morning.

Mr. Punchihewa said the EC would meet today or tomorrow to decide on the next course of action in the backdrop of Finance Ministry’s repeated rejection to release funds for the EC ignoring the Supreme Court ruling.

Asked by the Daily Mirror, Mr. Punchihewa said there was no legal impediment to announce another date to hold LG polls in the event of the EC’s inability to conduct LG polls on April 25 as scheduled.

The General Secretary of the main opposition SJB, Ranjith Madduma Bandara filing an FR petition was able to obtain an interim order from the Supreme Court on March 3 preventing the Secretary to the Treasury, the Attorney General who represented the President and any other public official from withholding funds allocated to the EC from the budget 2023 and thus protected the voting rights and Fundamental Rights of 22 million Sri Lankans.

The three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Preethi Padman Surasena J, Janak De Silva J, and Priyantha Fernando, J further granted leave to proceed with the FR petition.(Sandun A. Jayasekera)

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