FR Petitions taken up before five-judge bench
By Kamal Weeraratne
Four Fundamental Rights (FR) Petitions filed against the sale of 40 per cent of State shares of the Yugadanavi Power Plant deal to a U.S. firm were perused before a five-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday (29).
Chief Justice (CJ) Jayantha Jayasuriya formed a five-Judge Bench of the Apex Court to preside over the case following submissions made by Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam on 12 November, considering the significance of the issue at hand to the people and the country. Besides CJ Jayasuriya, the rest of the members of the SC Bench consist of Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Priyantha Jayawardene, Vijith K. Malalgoda and L.T.B. Dehideniya.
The SC Bench only entertained written submissions when the four petitions were taken up for hearing yesterday and ordered oral submissions to be delivered on 16 and 17 December. The Bench also ordered petitioners to submit any objections concerning the written submissions produced by the respondents on or before 6 December. The SC then ordered the respondents that if there are any re-objections pertaining to the submissions to produce on or before 13 December.
Though the AG had informed the Apex Court that he will be looking into the interests of the PM and the Cabinet of Ministers in the trial, President’s Counsel Uditha Ihalahewa stated on 26 November that he will be appearing on behalf of three Cabinet Ministers namely Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila. The petitions have been filed by Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera, Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Samagi Janabalawegaya (SJB) General Secretary MP Ranjith Maddumabandara, ex-JVP MP Wasantha Samarasinghe and Secretary of the Lanka Electricity Union Ranjith Jayalal.
Besides the PM and his Cabinet, the others named as respondents include West Coast Power Company (WCP), the U.S. firm New Fortress Energy, CEB and the AG. The petitions had been filed by several parties seeking a Court order revoking the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to transfer shares in WCP - the owner of the 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy.