'Parachute' members face legal challenge
By Laila Nasry
The position of two chief ministers and over a dozen provincial council members who have been nominated to the post without facing elections is set to be challenged shortly after the courts this week held the appointment of one of the chief ministers appointed in a similar manner was illegal.

The Sunday Times learns that the petitions are to be filed before the Court of Appeal by different groups subsequent to last week's judgment delivered by the Supreme Court. The Commissioner of Elections also has sought a list of all provincial councillors who have been appointed without being on the list of candidates.

North Central Province Chief Minister Berty Premalal Dissanayake and Western Province chief minister Reginald Cooray and other members representing the PA, JVP and the UNP were among those who have been appointed to the councils without facing elections.

The JVP has nominated the most number of members from outside the nomination list. The Supreme Court in a 10 page judgment reversed the order of the Court of Appeal, holding that in the event of a vacancy arising in a Provincial Council, the power of the secretary of such a political party to nominate an alternative is confined to candidates whose names appeared in the original nomination list and who secured some preferences at the election.

The judgment delivered by Justice Mark Fernando with Justices D.P.S. Gunesekera and C.V. Wigneswaran agreeing, interpreted Section 65 of the Provincial Councils Elections Act, which gave rise to the question whether the vacancy can be filled by any person, and held that such an interpretation would only give rise to an anomaly. For the fact that the nomination paper is required to have three additional candidates than the number to be elected is indicative that the nomination paper is a pool from which subsequent vacancies are to be filled.

To permit the ability to nominate an outsider can only be justified on the ground of "supremacy of the party" which in court's view undermines the scheme of the Act, which provides for the right of the electorate to be represented by persons who have faced votes and obtained their support.

Court looking at the Section as a whole held that there was an ambiguity and that in such an event "a court is not justified in adopting an interpretation which has undemocratic consequences in preference to an alternative more consistent with democratic principles, simply because there are other provisions whether in the constitution or in any other statute, which appear undemocratic."

Legal sources said that although such office does not stand automatically nullified subsequent to this judgment it could be challenged on the basis of the principles enumerated in it. The Parliamentary Elections Act provides similar provisions for the filling of vacancies of MPs.

However, irrespective of the clear constitutional provisions, there are a number of MPs among JVP ranks who have stepped in to fill vacancies although their names did not feature in the relevant nomination lists.

Human torch shocks oil town
Anguished father sets himself ablaze near school
A 37-year-old man committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of his daughter's school last Thursday in protest at the authorities refusing to allow the girl to pursue her A/L studies in the Commerce stream.

W.A. Piyal Udayakumara from the oil town of Kolonnawa soaked himself in kerosene and set himself ablaze in front of the Kolonnawa Balika Vidyalaya on Thursday evening allegedly due to refusal by the school Principal to allow his daughter to enter the Commerce stream for her A/L studies.

Sixteen-year-old Nadeeka Sevvandi had been admitted to the Arts stream. However, her enthusiasm has been to study for her A/Ls in the Commerce stream. "My daughter who was distressed that she is not able to study in the Commerce stream, kept talking about it to her father often," Nadeeka's mother Champa Damayanthi (37) said.

Piyal, who runs a grocery, was equally enthusiastic about his daughter pursuing her studies in the Commerce stream. However, neighbours say that Nadeeka did not have the required aggregate to enter the Commerce stream. Although she had passed her O/Ls, Nadeeka is said to have obtained less marks in mathematics, which disqualified her from being admitted to the Commerce stream.

Yet, her family members deny that she had obtained less marks and claim that the school principal cited the overcrowded classroom as an excuse and not the lack of marks. Piyal had approached several known officials in the educational sphere in an attempt to persuade the school authorities to admit Nadeeka to the Commerce stream. In a final attempt, both parents had met the Principal on Thursday.

"We begged and pleaded, but the Principal refused entry to my daughter to the Commerce stream. She told us that the Commerce class was full and the teacher had refused to take in any additional students," Damayanthi said. She claimed that her daughter had passed her O/Ls and had the aggregate required to enter the Commerce stream.

"My daughter was anxious to know the Principal's response and my husband, disappointed over what had happened, tried to evade the topic. He borrowed Rs. 2000 from me to buy puchases for the grocery store and left the school premises while I proceeded home," Damayanthi said relating the events that unfolded into a tragedy.
Piyal had returned home around 1.30 in the afternoon with several boxes of biscuits and went out again.

"When he returned at 4.30 p.m. he asked for Nadeeka and I told him she would be back from classes only around 6 p.m. Then he borrowed another Rs. 200 and went out. At 5.45 p.m. my aunt came rushing in and told me that my husband had set himself ablaze in front of the school," recalled Damayanthi.

She said that her husband had severe burn injuries so that he couldn't open his eyes to see her. At the hospital Piyal had told his wife that he had decided to end his life as he was frustrated at not being able to get his daughter into the Commerce stream in school.

Shocked at the sudden turn of events Nadeeka is, however, determined to seek admission to a different school in order to pursue her studies in the Commerce stream.

DLB issue still deadlocked
By Chandani Kirinde
The deadlock in the Development Lotteries Board (DLB) issue is dragging onto a fourth week, with both the Prime Minister and the DLB Chairman yet to reply to letters sent to them by President Chandrika Kumaratunga on the issue.

The President wrote to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last Monday asking that the letter ordering the Government Printer not to print the relevant gazette be immediately withdrawn warning of "corrective action" if this was not done.

A spokesman for the President's Office said that the form of "corrective action" would be decided after waiting for a few more days for a reply from the relevant parties.
In her letter to Mr.Wickremesinghe the President dismissed government claims that her move was "unconstitutional' stating that her decision was in conformity with the Constitution and anybody who thinks otherwise can seek legal remedies and not seek to thwart the decision by extra-legal means.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Mass Communication Minister Imthiaz Bakeer Markar who had ordered the Government Printer not to print the gazette, as the President's move was "unconstitutional." A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office said the Premier is yet to reply the letter and would not say when this would be done.
The President in her latest letter states that the Prime Minister had failed to reply an earlier letter, which she sent to him on May 11 on the same issue.

In a separate letter addressed to the Chairman of the DLB J.K.Fernando on May 26, the President had directed that all payments other than recurrent expenditure of the Board be immediately stopped especially with regards to expenditure on publicity and advertising.

SLMM settles dispute
A possible clash between the LTTE and security forces over a search of an LTTE political wing office was averted by the Scandinavian monitors. The dispute arose after the monitors acting on a complaint of the security forces arrived at the Vadmaarachchi LTTE's political office on Friday to carry out a search for transmitting equipment. They were accompanied by police and the army.

At the entrance, the LTTE cadres had stopped SLMM area chief, Ole Boundm, and told him they were against the presence of the security forces and also could not allow the SLMM officers to carry out the search without permission from the LTTE's Jaffna office. The LTTE area leader, Daya, who arrived at the scene half an hour later also objected to the presence of the security forces.

The security forces responded by saying that they were invited by the SLMM.
The SLMM official had intervened to prevent the argument aggravating and had insisted that he wanted to go ahead with the search. Accordingly the LTTE area leader said that as a sign of respect for the SLMM he would allow to carry out the search. No Transmitting equipment was found.

TNA urges PM to accept interim body
The Tamil National Alliance is to meet Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to urge the Government to accept the proposals put forward by the LTTE to set up an interim council.

A TNA official said they would tell the Premier that it was the Government which had first proposed an interim council with a big role for the LTTE. TULF Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham told The Sunday Times that the Government had to keep to its promise.

"It is not the LTTE which proposed this, but the Government. It was included in the UNF election manifesto. The TNA feels that the LTTE has to be given the authority and power to look into the administration. The LTTE has to play a vital role in the political and financial affairs of the North and East," Mr. Pararajasingham said.

Anura sets sights on Presidency
Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike has appointed a special operations committee to support him in his bid to run for the Presidency after the term of his sister President Chandrika Kumaratunga expires.

The committee consists of professionals, including a leading professor, and political activists. Mr. Bandaranaike who has hand-picked his team has wanted them to work for his political advancement.

They will be advising him on his strategies, speeches to be made and matters that he will have to address specially with the upcoming SLFP-JVP alliance. A team member told The Sunday Times that Mr. Bandaranaike who is hoping for a major political role within the alliance will work out a parallel political plan to strengthen his claim for the presidential candidacy.

He is also to appoint a new media team to boost his political image. The team comprising journalists and electronic media personnel will play a vital role in his media campaign. He has also taken up the role of overseeing party restructuring in the Kurunegala district and stepped up his political role as seen in the flood relief programme which he headed in some districts.

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