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Self-Employed Traders petition SC over govt. favouring liquor dealers



By A.J.A Abeynayake

The Supreme Court has decided take up, on 04 Oct. for hearing a petition filed by the Association of Self-Employed Traders against the opening of liquor stores during the current lockdown.

 The traders have requested the apex court to order the government to allow members of their union to engage in business activities since the liquor stores had been allowed to reopen during the lockdown.

The petition was taken up before a three-judge bench comprising justices L. T. B. Dehideniya, Shiran Gooneratne and Janak de Silva, yesterday.

 The State Counsel appearing for the respondents said he had received the relevant documents pertaining to the case only last Friday evening. Therefore, the State Counsel requested the court to give him time to seek advice from the respondents who were many.

Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva, appearing for the petitioner at the time, said about 7,000 members of his client union had lost their livelihoods due to the decision by the respondents.

Therefore, Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva requested the court to give an early date for considering the petition.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court decided to take up the petition for consideration on 04 Oct and directed the lawyers of the petitioners to take steps to send notice to the respondents before that date.

The petition was filed by the President of the United National Self-Employed Trade Association G.I. Charles, its Vice President P.G.B. Nissanka, and Secretary Krishan Marambage.

The petition names 47 respondents, including the Director General of Health Services, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Excise.

The petitioners allege that under the quarantine law, the Director General of Health Services, who is the competent authority, issued a notice on Aug 20 prohibiting the opening of liquor stores.

The petitioners point out that steps were taken to open liquor stores countrywide contrary to the regulations of the Health Authority.

The Director General of Health Services, the Commissioner General of Excise and the Inspector General of Police have stated that they have not allowed the reopening of liquor stores.

The petitioners have also requested the Supreme Court to issue an order to the respondents to allow the members of their association to engage in business activities as the liquor stores are allowed to remain open.


Speaker blasts ministers who often skip sittings




‘They are here only when Prez visits Parliament’

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena expressed his displeasure over ministers skipping Parliament sessions while there were questions that they should be answering.

Following a heated argument between government MPs and their Opposition counterparts over explosions caused by defective domestic gas cylinders, the Speaker said that it was highly regrettable that there were no front-row ministers to respond to queries from the Opposition.

“I have noticed that all the ministers are present on the days the President visits Parliament. The ministers come and stay in the Chamber to mark their presence and show the President that they attend Parliament proceedings. Therefore, very soon I will have to request the President to come to Parliament everyday so that the ministers, too, would be here,” the Speaker said.

The Speaker pointed out that not a single minister was present in the front row either to the right or left of the seat of the Chief Government Whip.

The Speaker said that whenever a problem of national importance was raised by the Opposition, the government should respond to its questions. All ministers are duty bound to respond to questions from the Opposition and none should shirk their collective responsibility, the Speaker said.

Speaker Abeywardena said that he would summon a special consultative committee today (01) to discuss the gas cylinder explosions.

“Everyone including party leaders, officials of CAA and representatives of Litro and Laugfs Gas must be present at the special meeting,” he said.

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Fresh troops leave for overseas deployment



SLAF personnel assigned for forthcoming mission under UN command

The annual change of personnel of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Aviation Unit, under the United Nations helicopter deployment in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) left the country during the early hours yesterday (30, November 2021).

The 7th contingent of 110 personnel, comprised 20 Officers and 90 Airmen, departed to Central Africa from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Wing Commander Sampath Liyanarachchi will lead this Contingent as the Contingent Commander. This contingent includes a female Officer, for the first time in the history of SLAF UN Deployments. This female Officer is one of the Medical Officers deployed with this Contingent.

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More gas explosions



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Several more explosive incidents connected to gas cylinders were reported from across the country in the 24 hours that ended yesterday noon.

A canteen at the Samurdhi Bank at Lidakumbura, Bibile, was damaged when a fire and explosion took place after the person who manages the place switched on the gas cooker yesterday morning.

A fire had occurred at a house at Thilinagama, Meerigama, on Monday night when the cooker there was turned on, police said,

In separate incidents at Meegoda and Lollegoda, Mawanella residents found that their gas cylinders were leaking and informed officials.

State Minister of Co-operative Services, Marketing Development and Consumer Protection, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, said that CAA had collected 12 samples of gas cylinders from the Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Gampaha, Galle, Kalutara, and Colombo areas to be tested. The lab reports had now been sent to the Moratuwa University and the university had appointed four experts to study the lab reports. The report was expected to be submitted in the next few days.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Dullas Alahapperumam yesterday said that the Moratuwa University, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, the Government Analyst’s Department and the relevant institution would work together to determine the causes of explosions.

“Hopefully, we will be able to uncover what’s going on in the coming 24 to 48 hours. Everyone including my wife is scared,” he said.

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