The Supreme Court today commenced hearing into the Special Determination petitions filed challenging the constitutionality of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Dr P.B. Jayasundera, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary Attorney-At-Law Sagara Kariyawasam, SLPP Lawyers’ Association, Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Cabinet Ministers had sought court’s permission to intervene into these Special Determination petitions.

The Chief Justice announced that intervention petitioners would be allowed to present their submission after the conclusion of the submissions of petitioners.  

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice PriyanthaJayawardena, Justice Murdu Fernando and Justice Janak de Silva fixed the petitions for further hearing for tomorrow (20).

President’s Counsel Kanag-Isvaran appearing for the Center for Policy Alternatives and Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) argued that International laws do not recognisean artificially created land as a sovereign territory. Kanag-Isvaran said territory is recognised as a naturally created land. He contended that the proposed bill has erroneously recognised this artificially created land as crown land. “Offshore banking businesses are not subjected to banking laws in the country. The banking laws and company act regulations would not apply to this specific territory. The monetary board would have no oversight over offshore banks. This will be a heaven for casino and money laundering,” Kanag-Isvaran added.

Counsel Darshana Weraduwage appearing for the President of the Association of Information Technology Professionals Sri Lanka (AITP) Kapila Renuka Perera raised preliminary objections against the proposed bill. Weraduwage claimed that the bill was submitted to Parliament in an unconstitutional manner because it was not referred to any Provincial Council, even though the territory in question is situated within the Western Province.

He further said the proposed bill would breach the people’s sovereignty and franchise rights guaranteed by Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the constitution because the business entity is operating without the representatives of the republic.

President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran appearing for Civil Society Activist GaminiViyangoda said that the judicial power of the country has been taken away by the Port City project as it proposed to resolve disputes by way of compulsory arbitration. Sumanthiran further said the project would also bring benefit to people who are not residents of Sri Lanka.

Counsel Eraj de Silva appearing for UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara, Ronald Perera PC appearing for UNP Chairman, counsel Shantha Jayawardena appearing for former MP Wasantha Samarasinghe of the JVP also made their oral submissions.

Further submissions to be resumed tomorrow at 10 am.

Nineteen petitions have been filed so far against the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill. They are; Samagi Jana BalawegayaGeneral Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, SJB Parliamentarian Harshana Rajakaruna. JVP former Parliamentarian WasanthaSamarasinghe, UNP Chairman VajiraAbeywardena, UNP General Secretary PalithaRange Bandara, Oshala Herath, Dr AjanthaPerera, Jeran Jagatheesan who contested the 2020 General Election under the UNP ticket, President of BASL Saliya Pieris PC, BASL Secretary Rajiv Amarasuriya, and engineer Kapila Renuka Perera, Center for Policy Alternatives and its Executive Director Pakyasothy Saravanamuttu, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, G.S. Shyamalee, Nagananda Kodituwakku, RajikaKodituwakk and Trade Union activist Lesley Devendra.

The petitioners are seeking a declaration that the Bill in whole or in part requires the approval by people at a Referendum and requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here