On 04th October 2010 a Bill titled Local Authorities Elections (Amendment) Bill was published in the gazette and was placed in the Order Paper of Parliament on 21st October 2010. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and two others challenged the Bill in the Supreme Court on 27th October 2010.
In its petition, CPA stated that the Bill introduces a mixed system of First Past the Post (FPP) and Proportional Representation (PR) coupled with the ward system, whereby the respective Local Authorities are divided into a number of electoral units and thus negatively impacts representative democracy by introducing obstacles and challenges for minor parties and independent groups to secure seats, thereby reinforcing the two party system. The Petitioners further stated that the Bill limits the choice of the voter by providing broad powers to the secretary of a political party and leader of an independent group to decide on filling vacancies of elected members from among ‘anyone qualified to be an elector’ and nominating a Mayor or Deputy Mayor and that such powers undermine the voter’s right to decide his or her elected official. The Petitioners further stated that the appointment of committees by the Minister for delimitation purposes is anomalous with the Delimitation Commission provided under Article 95 of the Constitution and the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The Petitioners also stated that news reports have indicated the holding of Local Government elections in the North in the near future and that if necessary measures are not taken to address the voting rights of affected communities there is a possibility of an imminent infringement of the fundamental rights of a large number of citizens in the North. The matter was heard on 2nd November and CPA along with several other petitioners made their submissions. Written submissions were filed by 8th November. Subsequently the Supreme Court decided that the Bill in question is consistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
Advocacy related to the Bill was conducted by CPA, including drafting a document on the topic which was shared with key stakeholders and meeting with various political parties to raise key concerns related to the Bill and its impact.
Two cases on the same matter were supported by CPA as provided below:
- Andi Schubert Vs. Attorney General (SC SD 10/2010)
- Abdul Rahuman Vs. Attorney General (SC SD 10/2010)