Geetha Kumarasinghe’s disqualification does not invalidate nomination papers

The Court of Appeal judgment in Buwenaka & Others vs. Geetha Kumarasinghe has sparked debate concerning the validity of electoral nomination papers that include disqualified candidates. Quite apart from the judgment, a question has arisen in the public domain on whether the disqualification of a candidate invalidates the entire nomination paper that he or she was nominated in. This briefing note attempts to answer this question. It argues that the disqualification of a candidate does not invalidate nomination papers due to:

(a) The Returning Officer’s (RO) lack of statutory authority to reject nomination papers on the basis of a candidate’s disqualification, and

(b) The application of section 115 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, No. 1 of 1981 (PEA), which provides that the disqualification of candidates has no effect on the validity of nomination papers.

This briefing note is presented in three sections. The first section explains the legal recourse available in the event that a disqualified person is elected to parliament. The second explains the provisions of the PEA with respect to the grounds on which a nomination paper can be rejected. The third section explains why the disqualification of a candidate cannot result in the invalidation of the nomination paper in which he or she was nominated.

Access briefing note here