Mr. Ranga Dissanayake, High Court Judge, Moneragala has delivered a landmark judgment on 13th September 2021 opening a new chapter in the history of elections in Sri Lanka.
This judgment has been given in respect of a case filed by PAFFREL in collaboration with loosing candidate and the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence against a candidate of one of the local government bodies in the Moneragala District for offering various kinds of bribes to the voters at the last local government elections.
The judgment declared the candidate who had purportedly won the seat by bribing the voters as null and void and accordingly he was removed by order of the Court and the candidate who had secured the next highest number of votes was ordered to be appointed to fill the vacant position.
This historic ruling will serve as a deterrent to future candidates in bribing the voters. Even if they continue to bribe, their election will be liable to be challenged subsequently. In addition, the need for enacting laws to limit election expenses by candidates and provision of a level playing field for all candidates in an election has been re- emphasized.
Also, it is important to note that the implementation of the Right to Information Act has paved the way for procuring the information required for this victory.
We were compelled to pursue this case in the midst of many obstacles. The two lawyers who have given their utmost commitment in this case while certain institutions that ought to have supported our endeavor had avoided their responsibility, deserve the respect and gratitude of all those who value democracy. This achievement will certainly be a source of joy to the election officials who have supported it sincerely. Also we wish to thank all the civil society representatives and staff who have worked hard towards this achievement.
Lanka Newsweek © 2021