SC to continue consideration today
By Kamal Weeraratne
Consideration of the 19 Special Determination Petitions (SDP) against the Colombo Port City Economic Commission (CPCEC) Bill commenced before a five-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court yesterday.
During yesterday’s proceedings the initial submissions concerning 14 of those petitions took place till 4.15 pm.
The submissions of the remaining five petitions will get underway at 10 a.m. today. Meanwhile, in order to counter the 19 SDPs eight intervenient petitions were also filed yesterday.
The SDPs were perused by a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Priyantha Jayawardene, Murdu Fernando and Janak de Silva.
The 19 SDPs were on 15 April by the Executive Director of the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) P. Saravanamuttu, an engineer from Dehiwela G. L. R. Perera, a resident of Dehiwela A.D.P.A Guneratne, Gamini Viyangoda, General Secretary of the UNP Palitha Range Bandara, UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardene, General Secretary of the SJB MP Ranjith Maddumabandara, SJB MP Harshana Rajakaruna, JVP member Wasantha Samarasinghe, Trade Unionist Leslie Devendra, P. S. Shayamali, Rajitha Kodithuwakku, Dr. Ajantha Perera, Bandula Chandrasekera, Transparency International, Attorney Nagananda Kodithuwakku, Chairman of the BASL Saliya Peiris, General Secretary of the BASL Rajiv Amarasuriya, Raveena Gayendri de Silva and Chief Incumbent of the Abayarama Temple, Narahenpita Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera.
The petitioners have prayed the Apex Court to issue an order that the CPCEC Bill that was submitted to Parliament on 10 April, by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, contravenes Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka and hence to thereby instruct the Government to ratify the controversial Bill with a two-thirds majority vote, including the MPs who would not be present in the House at the time a vote is taken on it.
The petitioners have also moved the Supreme Court to deem that to ratify the said Bill not only a two-thirds majority vote would suffice in the Legislature but to also do so with a Public Referendum or if not to issue an order to invalidate the Bill.
During yesterday’s proceedings President’s Counsel K. Kanaga Iswaran made submissions to the Bench on behalf of his client P. Saravanamuttu of the CPA.
He said “Through this proposed Bill and its sections 65 (1) and 65 (3) it has been stipulated that the setting up of the Colombo Port City, which has been artificially built, does not fall under the purview of the Articles of the Constitution and hence it will be similar to the establishment of a special authority with overriding powers within its premises. Secondly the proposed Colombo Port City Complex would exceed the powers vested in the Parliament of Sri Lanka and will be above the law of this land and the necessary framework for its establishment has been included in the proposed Bill.
This is further underscored through the paragraphs 8 up to 18 contained in the draft Bill. Furthermore, through this Bill the necessary environment has been created for the enactment of the Ocean Zonal Law and the International Law. Hence there are no provisions in the Articles of the Constitution of this country for the establishment of such far exceeding laws over an area that has been artificially created through the soil of Sri Lanka and if allowed to be ratified, the Bill will seriously violate not only the Articles of the Constitution but also bring untold harm to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Also, this particular area where the Colombo Port City Complex is being constructed had been utilised artificially for this purpose covering 446 hectares and hence it also falls under the purview of the Articles of the Constitution.
This country which was initially named as Ceylon by the British, when it ruled it under its Empire, had been handed over to its inhabitants granting independence in 1948 while it had become the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972. Four years down the line it had been renamed as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka while through the Ocean Zonal Law No. 22 of 1976 and on 1 September 1976 the country’s ocean zone was made up of 25 administrative Districts.
Hence these details would show that this controversial Bill would need not only a two third majority vote in Parliament for its ratification but also a Public Referendum as well, as its contents pose an untold danger to the country and its citizens if allowed to be ratified. Hence we urged the Bench to issue an order to the Government to accede to these requests on behalf of this country and its people.”
TNA MP PC MA Sumanthiran and a group of lawyers made submissions concerning the rest of the petitions.