The Supreme Court today dismissed another Fundamental Rights petition that was filed against the inclusion of the EPF and ETF in the scope of domestic debt restructuring. The bench, comprising Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Janak de Silva, and Gamini Amarasekara, refused to grant leave to proceed with the Petition after hearing all parties for two days.
M.A. Sumanthiran PC, who appeared for the petitioner, told the court that the invitation to extend the time period of the bonds (loans) acquired by the State from superannuation funds (EPF and ETF) violates the Fundamental Rights of the members of the Funds as it is unequal, unreasonable, arbitrary, and against the Constitution.
The Petitioner had named EPF, ETF, the Monetary Board, and the Public Debt Department of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as Respondents in this Application.
The Counsel appearing for the Respondents submitted to Court that the Court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter according to the Constitution.
Senior Counsel Eraj de Silva, representing the ETF, argued that, in accordance with Articles 4 and 148 of the Constitution, the Parliament wields complete control over the nation’s public finances. Hence, the judiciary should not intervene in decisions sanctioned by Parliament.
De Silva also highlighted to the Court that the Domestic Debt Restructuring regarding the EPF and ETF is ultimately designed to safeguard the people’s funds. If the State were to default on repaying the Bonds, it would result in turmoil, leaving nothing for the Fund’s members. He emphasised that the evaluation should not solely consider the current circumstances but rather the potential outcomes in the event of default or increased money printing leading to inflation.
De Silva further brought to the Court’s attention that the Petitioner failed to disclose his affiliation with the NPP (National People’s Party) and his previous candidature in an election on behalf of the NPP. He argued that the NPP’s stance against the Domestic Debt Restructuring process was pertinent information that the Petitioner should have divulged.
“It is evident that the Petitioner’s affiliated Party aims solely to derail the debt restructuring process without providing a viable alternative,” De Silva remarked.
Eraj de Silva, with N.K. Ashokbharan, Daminda Wijeratne, Janagan Sundramoorthi, Shehan Chamika Silva, Zul Luthufi, and Naveed Ahamed, instructed by Dinesh Vidanapathirana, appeared on behalf of the ETF.