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AG tells Supreme Court:



‘Passage of Port City Bill needs only simple majority’

by Chitra Weerarathne and A.J.A. Abeynayake 

The Attorney General informed the Supreme Court yesterday that the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill did not contain any provisions inconsistent with the Constitution, and therefore it did not need either a two-thirds majority in Parliament or public approval at a referendum for passage. 

The Supreme Court yesterday (23) concluded the consideration of petitions challenging the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

The petitions were taken up before a five-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Murdhu Fernando, and Justice Janak de Silva.

The decision of the five-judge bench will be conveyed to the Speaker of Parliament in due course.

The Port City Economic Commission Bill was designed to promote the economy of the country by encouraging the foreign investors to invest profitably in the new zone, titled “The Port City”, Farzana Jameel, Additional Solicitor General President’s Counsel explained to the court.

The ASG submitted that the Special Economic Zone created an entity with a multitude of functions, controlled by the Port City Economic Commission.

Jameel appeared for the Attorney General. 

The administrative function of the zone would be handled by the Commission with the approval of the Regulatory Authority, the ASG explained.

The licensing process involving banking in the Port City would be perused by the Port City Economic Commission in accordance with the Banking Act of Sri Lanka with permission of the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka.

The Port City Economic Commission was meant for a period of forty years, the Additional Solicitor General explained to the Supreme Court.

This Bill was for the betterment of the country. Foreign investors would be encouraged to invest. Sri Lanka would derive a good profit from their investments.

The government had made arrangements, by the Bill for investments to come swiftly, invest swiftly within the country’s laws, the court was told.

The Bill envisaged nothing outside the law of the land, the AG’s representative maintained.

The activities of the Port City Economic Commission would be controlled by the Minister in charge, and decisively and finally by the President, she said.

 Nearly 20 petitions have been submitted against the Draft Bill by parties including Chairman of UNP Vajira Abeywardena, UNP General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara, former JVP MP Wasantha Samarasinghe, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), General Secretary of SJB Ranjith Madduma Bandara, and Chairman of the IT Professionals Association G. Kapila Renuka.

Chairman of SLPP Prof. G. L. Peiris, SLPP General Secretary Attorney at Law Sagara Kariyawasam, and the legal association of the SLPP have filed intervenient petitions.

The petitioners, claiming that certain clauses of the relevant Bill have violated the country’s Constitution, are seeking a court order ruling that a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum are necessary for the passage of the Bill.


Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled



by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice



 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB



Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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