Gammanpila files petition challenging State Land Bill

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Leader Udaya Gammanpila yesterday filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the State Land (Special Provisions) Bill, stating the motive behind the draft Bill is to allocate lands for a special US economic corridor to be set up in the country.

In his petition, MP Gammanpila said that a Bill titled “State Land (Special Provisions)” was gazetted on March 5, 2019, and has been placed on Parliament Order Paper on July 28, 2019.

The petitioner, by way of a preliminary objection, stated that the Bill has not been referred to any of the Provincial Councils. The Bill deals with state land which is a subject coming within item 18 of List I (Provincial Councils List) of the 9th Schedule to the Constitution.

The Petitioner stated that in terms of Article 154G (3) of the Constitution, the President is required to refer the Bill ‘after its publication in the Gazette and before it is placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, to every Provincial Council for the expression of its views thereon,’ which has not been done.

“Therefore, the parliament has no power, authority or jurisdiction to enact this Bill without it being first referred to the Provincial Council. As the Bill has been placed in the order paper of parliament without compliance of the provisions of Article 154 (G) (3) of the Constitution, no determination should be made at this stage on the other grounds that the provisions are consistent or inconsistent with the Constitution,” the petition said.

MP Gammanpila stated that the cumulative effect of the provisions of the Bill would have the effect of alienating state land even to non-citizens and/or would affect the rights of the Republic, and thereby, infringe the sovereignty vested in the people.

He requested the Supreme Court refuse to make a determination in terms of Article 123 of the Constitution, as the President has not referred the Bill to all Provincial Councils. Article 154G (3) of the Constitution declares that the Bill cannot become law without it first being referred to all Provincial Councils and declare that clauses 1 to 36 of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 2, 3, 4, 83, 154G(3), Item 18 of List I (Provincial Councils List) of the 9th Schedule of the Constitution, and therefore, need a two-thirds majority in parliament and the approval of the people at a referendum. (Lahiru Pothmulla)

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