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Supreme Court rules in favour of Road Development Authority in Passara bus accident case

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In a judgment delivered on Thursday (23), the Supreme Court concluded that the respondent parties including the Road Development Authority (RDA) did not violate the fundamental rights of the petitioner connected to the tragic Passara bus accident of 2021, which claimed the lives of 14 passengers and left 35 individuals injured.

The petition filed by three children and their grandparents,accused the RDA of negligence leading to the accident that resulted in their parents’ demise.The Court, while dismissing the Fundamental Rights petition, clarified that the respondents did not breach Article 12 (1) of the Constitution.

The incident occurred on 20 March 2021, at approximately 6:45 a.m., when a private bus from Lunugala to Colombocarrying about 60 passengers, veered off the road and plunged into a 250-foot precipice near the 13th milepost on the Lunugala-Passara Road.

The petitioners attributed their parents’ tragic fate to the RDA’s actions, inactions, or oversights, specifically referencing a previously obstructed road caused by a boulder following a landslide four months before the accident.

Acknowledging the bus driver’s negligence as a contributing factor to the fatalities, the petitioners stressed that the respondents, primarily responsible for road maintenance, failed in their duty to prevent the incident.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the RDA’s efforts to clear more than 40 landslides since the initial incident, including the boulder obstructing the road. The RDA’s explanation highlighted the risks involved in removing the boulder immediately after the landslide, considering potential dangers to nearby residences during the monsoon season.

The Court noted the precautions taken by the RDA, such as placing warning signs and illuminating stickers at the accident site, as evidence of their efforts to caution the public.

Justices Preethi Padman Surasena and Janak de Silva, concurring with Justice Priyantha Fernando, ruled to dismiss the petition without costs.Counsel Thusitha Wijekoon represented the Petitioners, while Deputy Solicitor General Lakmali Karunanayake appeared for the respondents.



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President orders probe into notification issued by Department of Immigration and Emigration

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It has been reported that President Wickremesinghe ordered an investigation into the notification issued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration requesting all  Russian and Ukrainian tourists to leave the country within 14 days.

According to the President’s Media Division (PMD), the relevant notification was issued without prior approval from the Cabinet of Ministers.

The decision had reportedly been taken as certain foreign tourists are running illegal businesses in the country.

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Contentious Chinese research vessel docks in Maldives

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Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited Indian Ocean on several other occasions

A contentious Chinese research ship reached the Maldives on Thursday in the latest sign of the archipelago’s diplomatic reorientation towards Beijing and away from its traditional benefactor India.

Local residents said they had spotted China’s Xiang Yang Hong 3 at the Thilafushi industrial port near the capital Male.The 100-metre-long (328-foot) vessel was at an anchorage near Male on Thursday evening, according to the website Marinetraffic.

The Maldives’ pro-Beijing government said earlier the vessel was docking for a port call to rotate crew and take on supplies, on the condition that it would not conduct “research” while in its territorial waters.

Media reports in India had suggested that the vessel was conducting surveillance for Beijing.

India is suspicious of China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, which are strategically placed halfway along key east-west international shipping routes.Relations between Male and New Delhi have chilled since pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu won elections last year.

Muizzu has asked India to withdraw 89 security personnel based in the Maldives to operate reconnaissance aircraft by March 15.But the president has also insisted he does not want to upend ties with New Delhi by replacing Indian troops with Chinese forces.

Sri Lanka refused entry to Xiang Yang Hong 3 after two other port calls from Chinese vessels since 2022 raised objections from India.That included the ship Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy ship. (AFP)

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MP Harsha in Australia as “Special visitor”

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Harsha de Silva

Opposition MP and Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) Harsha de Silva is currently in Australia as a special visitor.

Taking to ‘X’, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP said he had embarked on a nine-day visit on an invitation extended by the Government of Australia.

“My engagements with policymakers, academics, scientists and investment managers began in Melbourne and will continue in Adelaide and then public officials and politicians in Canberra,” he added.

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