A decision to hand over non forest land within forest entities, to be managed by divisional Secretaries had been challenged before the Supreme Court through a fundamental rights petition
The petitioner in this matter is G. Kapila Renuka Perera, an engineer by profession.
Through his application to the Supreme Court the petitioner had challenged the legality of the joint Cabinet memorandum prepared and presented to the Cabinet by Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, and Minister of environment respectively.
The petitioner stated that a cabinet decision had been taken on 26th of October, 2020 giving effect to the Joint Cabinet Memorandum said to be presented by the Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation and Minister of Environment on October 12, 2020 to the Cabinet titled “Releasing of Non Forested lands among the other State Forest lands other than Conservation and Reserved Forests which are vested with the Conservator General of Forests to the Commissioner General of Land in order to handover the same to Divisional Secretaries”.
The petitioner further stated that during a meeting held on 2020-07-01, Cabinet decided that it would be appropriate to introduce a simplified mechanism of granting permission to engage in such economic activities to minimize the hardships faced by those temporarily engaged in chena farming and other economic activities in such lands.
When the matter was taken up the Court was informed today that the parties in the petition are considering, reaching a settlement regarding the issue in question.
Nevertheless, taking into consideration recent developments, Supreme Court today (21) fixed the petition to be mentioned on March 4.
The petitioner has cited the Secretary to the Ministry of Wildlife & Forest Conservation M.K. Bandula Harischandra, the Secretary to the Ministry of Lands R.A.A.K. Ranawake, the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasingha, the Land Commissioner General G. D. Keerthi Gamage, the Minister of Wildlife & Forest Conservation C.B. Rathnayake, the Minister of Lands S.M. Chandrasena, the Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera and the Attorney General as respondents.
Petitioner Kapila Renuka Perera is further seeking an order directing the respondents to take immediate legal action against those who are responsible to the illegal possession of said lands and to take remedial actions to restore the destructions caused to the said lands and regain possession of all the said lands which are subject to said circulars in terms of the law.