Colombo Port City Economic Bill; Petitioners conclude submissions

The Supreme Court yesterday concluded oral submissions put forward by petitioners who filed Special Determination petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

A Supreme Court five-judge-bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya,Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Murdu Fernando and Justice Janak de Silva fixed the petitions for further hearing for today (21). The intervenient petitioners are to present their oral submissions from 10am today.

President’s Counsel Wijeyedasa Rajapakshe appearing for Ven.Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera submitted to court that the proposed bill would form a completely new territory with a delegation of executive, legislative and judicial powers to the Commission proposed to be established and private entities within the said Zone.

Rajapakshe said that the Zone is not subject to laws and regulations of the Municipal Council and Urban Development Authority. “No representatives are elected from the Zone. Thereby the democracy is completely negated and denied to the people in the Zone. Therefore, there will be two territories and the Zone will be an exclusively a separated territory which will be created by the legislature. Such territory is not less than the strength of a separate country as meant in 157(a) of the Constitution,” Rajapakshe added.

Rajapakshe further said the proposed bill poses a threat to the National Security. “The zone has been exempted from the Customs Ordinance. The Customs is debarred from exercising its powers within the Zone and the people in the Zone. There may be importation of prohibited substances such as drugs, weapons etc. South jetty of the Colombo Port is situated adjoining the said Zone and it is controlled by the company belonging to Chinese government. There is a turmoil situation prevailing in the region as well as in the World due to the power struggle between China on one side and India, USA, Europe, Japan on the other side. This kind of unprecedented facilitation to China would undoubtedly expose the Whole country to danger,” said Rajapakshe.

President’s Counsel Ikram Mohammed appearing for BASL President Saliya Pieris stated that there is no indication who should be the members of the commission. He feared that there is a possibility of appointing foreigners as the members of the commission contrary to the country’s national interests. He further said there is no indication regarding the qualifications of the commission members.

Meanwhile, eleven intervenient petitioners including Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary Attorney Sagara Kariyawasam, Athula de Silva, SLPP Lawyers’ Association, Finance Ministry Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary have sought Court’s permission to present their submissions, in support of the Bill.

The Chief Justice announced that intervenient petitioners would be given an opportunity to present their submissions from 10am today.

Nineteen petitions have been filed so far against the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill. They are by; Samagi Jana Balawegaya General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, SJB Parliamentarian Harshana Rajakaruna, former JVP Parliamentarian Wasantha Samarasinghe, UNP Chairman Vajira Abeywardena, UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara, Oshala Herath, Dr. Ajantha Perera, Jeran Jagatheesan who contested the 2020 General Election under the UNP ticket, BASL President Saliya Pieris PC, BASL Secretary Rajiv Amarasuriya, Engineer Kapila Renuka Perera, Centre for Policy Alternatives and its Executive Director Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, G.S. Shyamalee, Nagananda Kodituwakku, Rajika Kodituwakku 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.

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