Sri Lanka Supreme Court rules against provincial council elections before delimitation of electoral districts
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Sri Lanka Supreme Court rules against provincial council elections before delimitation of electoral districts

The secretary to the Sri Lankan president said Monday that the country’s Supreme Court has ruled against holding provincial council elections in the absence of a report by the delimitations review committee.

President Maithripala Sirisena had, in an invocation of the Supreme Court’s consultative jurisdiction under Article 129 of Sri Lanka’s constitution, asked the court to determine whether it is lawful for provincial council elections to be held in the absence of delimitation, a redrawing of the boundaries of electoral districts.

A five-member bench of the court, headed by judge Jayantha Jayasuriya, held unanimously that the president is not empowered to declare electoral district boundaries unilaterally in the absence of the report of a delimitations review committee chaired by the prime minister. The court’s decision effectively means that provincial council elections cannot be held before November’s presidential elections.

Before referring the question to the Supreme Court, the president had favored holding provincial council elections before presidential elections in a bid “to test the pulse of the people.” Elections are due in eight out of Sri Lanka’s nine provincial councils.

Delimitation has been a controversial political issue in Sri Lanka. The Delimitation Committee (DC) report demarcating provincial boundaries was forwarded to parliament for debate and voting in March 2018. The recommendations of the report were not accepted after facing stiff opposition in parliament.