The Fundamental Rights Petition seeking an interim order suspending the operation of the Gazette permitting the import of glyphosate was fixed for support on 12 October by the Supreme Court yesterday (21).
This was when the Petition filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) was taken up before Supreme Court Justices E.A.G.R. Amarasekara, Murdu Fernando and Kumuduni Wickramasinghe.
Additional Solicitor General, Suharshi Herath moved for further time to file limited objections and the petitioner urged that as this was an important matter that affects the environment and public health, it should be taken as early as possible. Accordingly, Court re-fixed it for 12 October.
In 2015, the then Registrar of Pesticides banned the import of glyphosate for commercial use by way of an order made under Section 11 of the Control of Pesticides Act No. 33 of 1980, in the interest of the public and on the advice of the Pesticides Technical and Advisory Committee and published in Gazette Extraordinary No. 1937/ 35.
The said Gazette cancelled every licence issued in respect of the pesticide containing the active ingredient glyphosate
The Petitioner noted that re-introducing glyphosate will result in adverse effects on health and the environment. It was stated in the Petition that glyphosate has given rise to global concerns for its proven potential risk to cause various cancers, including non-Hodgkin symptoms, a deadly cancer of the immune system and has been identified as the World’s most ubiquitous weed killer that raises by 41 per cent the cancer risk of those exposed to it.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilisation and National Policies, issued Gazette Extraordinary No. 2291/44, dated 5 August, 2022, in terms of the powers vested in him by Section 20 read together with Section 4(1) and Section 14 of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, No. 1 of 1969 as amended by Act, No. 48 of 1985 and Act, No. 28 of 1987 permitting the importation of glyphosate under the licence issued by the Controller-General of Imports and Exports, subject to the recommendation of the Registrar of Pesticides.
President Wickremesinghe, the Registrar of Pesticides, Minister of Agriculture, Director General of Health Services, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medical Services, Consumer Affairs Authority, Central Environmental Authority and the Attorney General were named as respondents to the Petition.
By Faadhila Thassim