Transfers rock election laws

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By 2018-01-12

By Leon Berenger

A polls observer on 10 January expressed caution over a wave of transfers, in the public sector, including the Police Department, since it clashes with the elections. However, the relevant authority said that such moves were made due to service requirements and therefore were inevitable.

Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon said that while reasons for certain cases were justified, since they were inevitable, some other transfers, however, were questionable and required explanations.

"Independent polls monitors have already taken up the matter with the Elections Commission. The Commission however insists that the cases have been thoroughly vetted prior to approval and that the matter ends there," he added.

He added that there were genuine cases such as the case of a medic who was urgently needed for a State-run maternity hospital in Talawakelle. However, having said that, several other transfers remain questionable, he noted.

He drew particular attention to the recent transfer of three Senior Deputy Inspectors General of Police (SDIGs).

These transfers took place despite the Commission Chairman, Mahinda Deshapriya, outlawing such moves after nominations, for the upcoming Local Government elections, closed on 14 December, 2017.

The Commission office justified the transfers saying they were approved due to inevitable circumstances and that it was receiving such requests on a daily basis. However, he could not disclose the exact number.

"The transfers are approved after a serious vetting process, where substantial proof is supported with documents. One case in point is the sudden transfer of teachers who were urgently needed for primary schools that opened in the fresh year.

Such transfers were inevitable since it was for a justified cause and that must be accepted by all stakeholders in the upcoming elections," Additional Elections Commissioner M.M. Mohamed explained.

Referring to the transfer of the three top Police officials he said that it was a request from the Inspector General of Police and therefore it was accepted with the approval of the National Police Commission (NPC).

Secretary – NPC, Ariyadasa Cooray said that the transfers were approved with the concurrence of the Election Commission. He added that the transfers were carried out owing to service requirements.

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