For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Election Commissioner has no powers to issue orders to the media during forthcoming local government elections, says the Elections Department.
Election Department (ED) said that as provisions of the 17th amendment of the constitution have been abolished, commissioner is not in a position to give orders to state media.
Consultant to ED, Bandula Kulatunge told BBC Sandesaya that earlier Elections Commissioner was able to order Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLRC) to comply with the guidelines announced by the Commissioner of Elections.
“Elections Commissioner had powers even to appoint a competent authority and order state media to be unbiased but those powers have been removed from the 18th amendment,” he said.
Election Department is expected to issue guidelines within the next couple of weeks to all media institutions that should be followed during the forthcoming local government elections.
Asked what actions could be taken against those contravene election guidelines, he said officially department is not able to take any actions under the provisions of the 18th amendment.
“However, one can go to courts in such instances where election guidelines are contravened by a media institution”, he added.