Fundamental Rights case filed against President’s re-election

The secretary of the New Democratic Front, Shyamila Perera, has filed a fundamental rights violation application in the Supreme Court against the election of Mahinda Rajapaks, as the President of Sri Lanka, consequent to the poll of January 26, 2010.

She has alleged that the e-mailing of electoral results without physical verification lead to a computer fraud.

The New Democratic Front is party that nominated General Sarath Fonseka as Presidential Candidate. The petitioner has complained of unequal treatment before the law by respondent Election Commissioner owing to the inability of the Commissioner and the Returning Officers to secure an accurate count of the votes.

The petitioner has requested the Court to make an interim order, for a recount of the votes cast in Ratnapura, Matale, Puttalam and Anuradhapura districts. The petition calls for a scrutiny of the ballots with counter-foils of ballot books to confirm the serial numbers of ballot papers. A scrutiny has been asked of counter-foils of the ballot books to check whether electoral lists or identity card numbers were entered. The petitioner has also requested a scrutiny of temporary identity cards entered at each polling booth.

The petition among the alleged discrepancies, has said that the island wide postal vote turn out was 96% and in Ratnapura it was 99.6%. There are adequate grounds to believe that there were irregularities, when the ballot boxes were sealed prior to the stipulated time and without the presence of the agents of the NDF candidate, Fonseka. In most counting centres, counting agents were not allowed to enter till 8 p.m., resulting in ballot boxes being outside the purview of the counting agents, for periods extending upto three hours and during that time the boxes could have been tampered with. There had been ballot boxes without sealed polythene cover, and the distinctive polling agent stickers. In the Puttalam District, ballot boxes were opened and kept close to screens separating the counting rooms, where officials could be seen freely working between the screens, the counting agents were not allowed to enter this area.

At counting centres in the Chilaw Electorate, counting was stopped twice for tea. The ballots were left on open tables unattended and unsupervised, allowing votes to be substituted and or added during the interval. The petitioner and other Opposition party officials and counting agents were intimidated, at Matale, Puttalam, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura districts. The UPFA supporters had an opportunity to stuff the boxes, affecting an accurate count of the votes polled in these districts.

The petition says that ballot papers carry a serial number. The number on the counter for one matches the number on the tear away portion. Ballota without serial numbers, are rejected as invalid. However in Matale, counting officers have counted these ballots in favour of UPFA.

The petition said that the Election Law was flaunted. Valid ballot papers were found abandoned.

In the Gampaha District the count was anomalies as votes were not reconciled and there were intimidation and thuggery which forced opposition agents to leave the centres. There were fraudulent bundling of ballots. Presidential Security Personnel were permitted into the counting centre.

E-mailing of electoral resulting without physical verification led to computer fraud.

Carbonised copies of the final count were refused, thus violating sanctity of the process.

A statement was made by the Elections Commissioner on January 27, 2010, admitting instances of fraud.

The petition has alleged discrepancies between the voter turn out figures given by a private television station quoting Returning Officer and the final official figures for areas like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya, Moneragala, and Badulla.

The respondents are the Commissioner of Elections and the Attorney General. Samararatne Associates are the instructing Attorneys.

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