Sri Lanka Cricket’s elections have been postponed by at least a month after a court of appeal found that the board had flouted election protocol. The move brings into sharp focus the extent of government interference in SLC affairs, with elections having once already been postponed on similar grounds.
This latest postponement is the result of a petition filed by SLC presidential candidate Nishantha Ranatunga against the legitimacy of incumbent president Thilanga Sumathipala, on the basis of the latter’s familial ties to the gaming industry. The court is understood to have dismissed the petition, but in the deliberation process it found that SLC had failed to hold a mandatory 14-day nomination period following the announcement of the election date – which which SLC had seemingly been granted permission for by the country’s sports ministry less than two weeks prior – and as such called for fresh elections to be held.
Elections had initially been announced for May 19 and a nomination deadline set for April 27, but were postponed after Sri Lanka’s sports ministry declared that SLC had violated the country’s sports law in the appointing of an election committee. Sports law dictates that the committee should be appointed on the floor of an Extraordinary General Meeting in front of SLC general membership, whereas SLC had made the appointment at an Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting.
SLC however contested that then Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera had granted special permission in this regard, but after Jayasekera resigned from his post on April 11 his replacement, Faiszer Mustapha, called on SLC to follow protocol.
As such SLC appointed a new election committee at an EGM on May 19, but with the board constitutionally bound to wait 40 days from the announcement of an election to hold elections, SLC petitioned the sports ministry to waive the waiting period as the nomination period had already taken place. The sports ministry, following consultation with the country’s Attorney General, concurred and allowed elections to be held on May 31.
However, in the latest twist, Sri Lanka’s court of appeal has effectively nullified the sports ministry’s and the AG’s decision.
While a new election date is being decided, the state of SLC leadership is up in the air. The present board’s term ends on May 31; for them to continue the sports minister will either have to grant an extension to the board’s term limit or appoint an interim committee.