FR filed against Treasury Secretary for failure to release funds for LG polls

February 22, 2023

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Maddumara Bandara yesterday filed a fundamental rights petition before the Supreme Court naming Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana and several others as respondents for the failure to release funds necessary for the Local Government elections. The polls scheduled to be held on 9 March have now been postponed due to the failure of the Treasury and several other state institutions' failure to support the Election Commission to proceed with the preparations. The petitioner said the respondents have failed to release the funds allocated through the 2023 Budget to the Election Commission. The petitioner said the actions of the respondents were in violation of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the Petitioner and to all citizens of Sri Lanka by Articles 12(1) and 14(1)(a) of the Constitution and in violation of their right to exercise their franchise guaranteed to them by Articles 03 and 04 of the Constitution. 

In addition to the Treasury Secretary, the petition named the Chairman of the Election Commission Nimal Punchihewa, Commissioner General of Elections Saman Sri Rathnayake, Government Printer Gangani Liyanage, and the Attorney General. The petitioner told the courts that the right to vote at a local election is also considered a right of franchise and has to be safeguarded with the sanctity it deserves as a fundamental right of the citizenry of the Republic of Sri Lanka. 

On Monday Election Commission of Sri Lanka (EC) informed the Supreme Court to hold Local Government elections on 9 March as scheduled. The EC by way of a motion yesterday informed the apex court that it is unlikely it would be able to hold the polls on 9 March as planned previously given the current situation. Giving reasons for the inability to go ahead with the vote, in its motion, the EC noted that the Treasury Secretary had informed he is unable to provide the necessary funds to conduct the said election.

“The entire community including the Respondents to this Application are vested with a fundamental duty to uphold and defend the Constitution and the law and are duty-bound to preserve, promote and uphold the right to vote. The Petitioner states that in such circumstances this Application is instituted on behalf of the Petitioner and in the interests of the citizens of Sri Lanka and with the sole objective of preserving democratic governance in the country,” it added. The petitioner is seeking a verdict that the basic human rights of the public have been violated through the actions of the respondents.