Attorney-at-Law Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa said that what were at play with the postponement of the Local Government elections were reasons which were more of a political nature than legal.
He added that the nexus of power presently had to be seen in light of the triad involving on the one hand, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Maithripala Sirisena on the other and yet another faction in MP Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Joint Opposition has the right and grounds on which to challenge the postponement, he added.
“Postponement can be done provided it is for an appropriate period. There must be a valid reason for the postponement. This must be justified, which in this case is not. If the election is going to be held under a new framework, then the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Act, which is the presently applicable piece of legislation, which incidentally is presently being amended, would have to be further changed,” he observed.
Attorney-at-Law Gomin Dayasiri said that the Constitution provided for the elections of the Central Government and the Provincial Councils and not for local authorities which included municipal councils, urban councils and pradeshiya sabhas.
While the Delimitation Commission is given a specific time period for the delimitation to be done, after which it must be gazetted, whether the elections are to be held on the old electoral system or a new form would further complicate things, he noted.
“Postponement is possible but would create great complications. The Constitution does hold that local Government elections should be held at the due periods at proper times, yet historically they have been put off from time to time and placed under the administration of special commissioners who are heads of institutions. This situation could be favourable to the Government and also to the new political party. There are pros and cons to all sides,” he explained.