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Supreme Court Petition Challenges Presidential Election Timing Amid Constitutional Amendments

A Fundamental Rights (FR) petition has been lodged with the Supreme Court, seeking an injunction to halt the upcoming presidential election until the court clarifies the appropriate timing for such elections.

The petition centers on a critical oversight within the 19th Constitutional Amendment, specifically in Section 30(2), which addresses the presidential term of office. It points out that this section has not been amended in accordance with Article 82(6) of the Constitution, which governs the amendment process.

Article 82 outlines the procedures for amending the Constitution, and the petition argues that failure to adhere to these procedures undermines both the sovereignty of the people and the integrity of the Constitution itself.

Furthermore, the petitioner contends that according to constitutional provisions, once a president is elected, their term of office cannot be curtailed by parliament or by a president elected through parliamentary means. This executive power, the petitioner argues, solely rests with a president elected directly by the people.

The petition highlights Article 31(3A)(e), which expressly prohibits a president elected by parliament from prematurely ending the term of office of a president elected by the people.

Emphasizing the role of the Supreme Court in safeguarding constitutional integrity, the petitioner asserts that the court’s judicial powers are paramount in preventing unlawful constitutional changes and maintaining a balance among the branches of government.

The petition underscores that the Supreme Court’s ruling on this matter will serve as a significant reminder to lawmakers to refrain from making arbitrary changes to the constitution, emphasizing that the constitution is not to be treated as pliable material.

Seeking immediate relief, the petitioner requests an interim order restraining the respondents—including the Election Commission officials and the Attorney General—from proceeding with any steps toward conducting the 2024 Presidential Election until the Supreme Court concludes its determination.

The petitioner also urges that the Election Commission must schedule the next Presidential Election in adherence to the constitutionally mandated six-year presidential term.

Respondents named in the petition include Commission General of Elections Saman Sri Ratnayake, the Chairman and members of the Election Commission, and the Attorney General.

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