The appeal petition filed by Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen seeking an order to set aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal in connection with the deforestation of the northern sanctuary of Wilpattu National Park was today fixed for support by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, and Justice Mahinda Samayawardena, fixed the petition to be taken up for support on March 17.
In its November 16, 2020 judgment, the Court of Appeal issued an order directing the Conservator General of the Department of Forest Conservation to take action to implement a tree planting program in accordance with the provisions of the Forest Ordinance in any area equivalent to the reserve forest area used for resettling IDPs.
The Court of Appeal further ordered Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen to bear the full cost of the tree planting program in these areas, applying the polluter pays principle.
In his special leave to appeal petition, Bathiudeen has raised several legal issues relating to the judgment of the Court of Appeal. Bathiudeen stated that the Court of Appeal has failed to consider whether the petitioner of the writ petition in the Court of Appeal had locus standi or was competent to maintain the application by way of public interest litigation.
He further stated that the findings of the Court of Appeal that he was instrumental in getting the land released for the settlement of IDPs were unsupported by evidence. He further said that the Court of Appeal has granted relief against the Conservator General of the Department of Forest Conservation inasmuch as no relief whatsoever was claimed against him.
Initially, the Center for Environmental Justice had filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal naming the Conservator General of Forest Conservation Department, the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), the Director General of the Wild Life Department, the Commissioner General of Lands, the Commissioner General of the Archeological Department, the Mannar District Secretary, Rishad Badiuddeen, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, the Minister of Environment and Mahaweli Development, and the Attorney General as respondents.
The Court of Appeal had also issued a consequential order directing Rishad Badiuddeen to bear the full cost of such a tree planting program under the polluter pays principle since, according to the evidence before the Court, he was instrumental in using the reserved forest land for the re-settlement of the IDPs.


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