Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne has filed a Special Determination petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the bill titled “Finance”, placed on the order paper of Parliament on July 20.

The petitioner is seeking a declaration that several clauses of the bill need endorsement by the people at a referendum and require a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The petitioner said clauses 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Bill provide for the grant of full immunity (Tax Amnesty) from liability to pay any tax, penalty or interest, or from any investigation or prosecution as provided in Clause 6 of the bill. The petitioner said such amnesty to be available to any person who has not disclosed any amount of taxable supply, income or asset.

Petitioner, Wickramaratne stated that the sum to be collected as a ‘Tax on Voluntary Disclosure’ of 1% of the sum disclosed is far lower than the tax liability of the persons who have already paid tax in terms of applicable existing law.

The petitioner further said the grant of the tax amnesty would give legitimacy to fraud on the revenue perpetrated by those to whom the concession is granted.

‘The effect of the said Clauses is discriminatory of taxpayers who have already made payment of the taxes. The said Clauses are arbitrary, irrational, grossly unreasonable, contrary to the rule of law, the Public Trust Doctrine and the Sovereignty of the People’, the petitioner said.

Petitioner Wickramaratne stated these Clauses will encourage further tax evasion and will not secure a net benefit to the State.


The petitioner argued that the provisions of Clauses 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, and especially Articles 12(1), 14(1)(g), 4(d) read with Article 3 of the Constitution. He claimed that the bill cannot be enacted into law, except if approved by the people at a referendum in addition to a two-thirds vote of the whole number of the Members of Parliament in favouras required by Article 83(a) of the Constitution.

The petitioner further said the grant of the tax write-off in terms of sections 10 and 11 would legitimize the fraud on the revenue perpetrated or legitimise the failure to pay taxes by those to whom the write-off is allowed.

He further stated that clause 17 of the Bill seeks to provide that there shall be no assessment under the provisions of Nation Building Tax Act, No. 9 of 2009 or Economic Service Charge Act, No. 13 of 2006 issued concerning a taxpayer, under the provisions of the respective law, on or after January 1, 2021.


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