- Case to be heard afresh and matter fixed for argument from July 31
- Justice Samayawardhana had informed Appeal Court President on Monday that he was recusing himself from delivering the judgement
- The judgment on the petition filed in 2015 had been postponed on three earlier occasions
By S.S. Selvanayagam
Justice Mahinda Samayawardhana yesterday recused himself from delivering the judgment on the writ petition filed as a public interest litigation on the deforestation and illegal construction in the Northern sector of the Wilpattu National Park with Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and other officials being cited as respondents.
The Bench comprising Justices Janak De Silva and Bandula Karunaratne fixed the matter for argument from July 31.
Justice Mahinda Samayawardhana had informed Appeal Court President Justice Yasantha Kodagoda on Monday that he was recusing himself from delivering the judgement on the case. Thereafter the Appeal Court President referred the case to a bench comprising Justice Janak De Silva and Bandula Karunaratne for a fresh hearing. The judgment on the petition filed in 2015 had been postponed on three earlier occasions and was reserved for August 6.
The writ petition was filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (Guarantee) Ltd citing as respondents, the Conservator General, Central Environmental Authority, Director General of Wild Life Department, Commissioner General of Lands, Commissioner General of Archaeological Department, Mannar District Secretary, Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and several others.
Ravindranath Dabare with Nilmal Wickramasinghe appeared for the petitioner while Faisz Musthapha PC with Basheer Ahmed and N.M. Riyaz appeared for the minister and State Counsel Manohara Jayasinghe appeared for the Attorney General.
The petition was filed as a public interest litigation on the deforestation and illegal construction of a housing project in the Northern sector of the Wilpattu National Park and some other areas.
Petitioner is seeking Court to take action against the removal of forest cover and re-instate the forest lands under the forest reserve and organize forest replanting programmes.
The petition states that some 2,000 hectares in the forest reserve adjoining the Wilpattu National Park and 1,000 hectares in Madhu, Periyamadhu and Sannara have been cleared, divided into plots with paved roads and unauthorized settlements causing irreparable damage to the whole environment, the eco-system and the wildlife habitats.
It states that 1,500 families have been illegally settled in the cleared area and that the Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was involved in the deforestation and settling people on the pretext of resettling internally displaced people.
The Bench comprising Justices Janak De Silva and Bandula Karunaratne fixed for argument from July 31