Counsel argues proposed legislation racist

To allow displaced of NE to vote


By Chitra Weerarathne

The proposed Bill to Register Internally Displaced persons of the North and East to entitle them to vote was a racist piece of legislation. That referred only to people displaced by terrorism and not by tsunami or any other natural disaster. If a person got displaced in the South he or she came under the old, law while those displaced in the North and East were favoured by the proposed law, said Manohara de Silva, President’s Counsel who supported in the Supreme Court a petition against the proposed law.

The petitioner is UPFA MP Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader Udaya Gammapila. The Northern Province the Sinhales constituted only 2% of the population. They accounted for 28% Eastern Province population.

A man who had got displaced from Meethotamulla and went to Matara would have to come to Meethotamulla and register under the existing law.

A person who got displaced from Kilinochchi due to terrorism would be permitted to register where he or she was under the proposed law, the counsel argued.

The objective was to get people who left this country and lived overseas, to come back and register and then get back overseas. The registration was for those who did not register after 2009, upto now. That helped increase the voter register of North and East. Even a dual citizen could register as voters.

You have to be permanently resident in Sri Lanka to register to vote under the currently effective law, counsel stressed. You have to be a permanently residing in Sri Lanka on June (1) any year, and must have a postal address, in Sri Lanka, the counsel said.

The Bill required the displaced person to get a certificate from the Grama Niladari in the area where he was living at present, stating that he was displaced from the North and the East. "How would a Grama Niladari living in Wellawatta know whether an applicant was displaced from Kilinochchi?"

Organised groups would be able to get pro-LTTE groups to come and vote. Sovereignty of the people was at risk, the counsel said.

Deputy Solicitor General Janaka de Silva appeared for the respondent Attorney General.

The Bench Comprised, the Chief Justice Priyasarth Dep, Justice Sisira de Abrew and Justice Nalin Perera. Proceedings resume on Friday.

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