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Denial of registered addresses for estate community: Estate worker seeks Supreme Court intervention

01 Apr 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • Petitioner states that, there are approximately 300  families residing in the said Muwankanda Estate

 By Lakmal Sooriyagoda  

An Estate worker has filed a Fundamental rights petition in  the Supreme Court seeking an order directing the authorities to grant  registered permanent addresses to the estate community residents all  over the country.  

Petitioner Jeewarathnam Sureshkumar a resident of  Muwankanda Waththa in Mawathagama filed this petition concerning the  Estate Workers and their families living in Sri Lanka who are considered  as citizens of this country but are equally aggrieved as the Petitioner  himself due to the lack of registered residential addresses allocated  to their residences.  

The petitioner had named the Minister of Public  Administration, Home Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Plantation  Industries Ramesh Pathirana, Minister of Water Supply and Estate  Infrastructure Development Jeevan Thondaman and several others as  respondents.  

According to the petition, registered permanent residential  addresses for estate workers play an essential role in ensuring that  these individuals have access to government services and can participate  in the democratic process of the country.  

This petition had been filed for the purpose of addressing  the denial of a registered address for the estate community of Sri Lanka  including the Petitioner himself who are a significant part of the  country’s labour force employed in the tea, rubber, and coconut  plantations, which are the country’s primary economic sources.  
The Petitioner states that, there are approximately 300  families residing in the said Muwankanda Estate and that none of these  households have a permanent postal address, hence, the citizens residing  in the said estate do not receive letters and postal items personally  to their houses or their name, and all mail is collectively received by  the public address; “Muwankanda Waththa, Mawathagama” which is common to  all the families residing in the estate.  

The Petitioner states that, the people who reside in this  estate have no permanent residential address for their houses, and that  the letters received by the people residing in the said estate are  received by the Main Post Office of Mawathagama, and the Post Office  delivers these letters in bulk to the Muwankanda Sub-Post Office, where  these letters in bulk are then delivered to the Superintendent of the  Muwankanda Estate, who then arranges these letters to be delivered  through an unreliable agent to the persons residing in the said estate  to whom the particular letters are addressed.  

The Petitioner states that the Janatha Estates Development  Board (JEDB) managed nearly 277 plantations and about 400,000 people  reside in those plantations, all of whom do not possess a residential  address.  
The petitioner is further seeking a declaration that the  respondents have violated the Petitioner’s Fundamental Rights that are  guaranteed under the Article 12(1), 12(2) and 14(h) of the Constitution.  
This petition had been filed through Senior Counsel Lakshan Dias and Attorney-at-Law Kasuni Herath.