The son of assassinated Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has filed legal action against Government moves to acquire his ancestral property in Maviddapuram in the Jaffna peninsula.
Sriraghavan Kadirgamar filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal today, seeking a Writ Certiorari to prevent Lands Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon from acquiring the property though his attorney, Lilanthi De Silva.
The former Minister who inherited the land from his mother, was a strong critic of the LTTE and considered Sri Lanka’s best foreign minister of all time. Minister Kadirgamar’s brothers have also extended yeoman service to Sri Lanka, as military officers of rank and eminent lawyers.
His son’s petition against the Government’s acquisition of his personal property puts the eminently respected Minister’s family front and centre of an ongoing struggle for land rights in the formerly embattled Jaffna peninsula.
The case will join several other petitions filed by some 2000 land owners in the Northern Province alleging an acquisition of their traditional lands by the Government. The struggle for land is an emotive one in the north because it is perceived as being a root cause of the ethnic issue since the 1950s.
The former Minister’s property now owned by his son was exclusively allotted to him by a Jaffna District Court decree in May 1968, the petition says.
Sri Raghavan Kadirgamar is seeking interim relief from the courts, to prevent the respondents and their agents from taking any steps to act upon the acquisition notice until after the case is heard. The Minister’s son is also seeking a mandate in the nature of a writ of Certiorari quashing the purported acquisition notice published under Section 2 of the Land Acquisition Act. In his petition it is argued that the acquisition is arbitrary and unreasonable and serves no public purpose.
The petition claims that while the acquisition notice claims the land has been acquired for the regularising of a High Security Zone, the land had never been within such a lawful HSZ. Furthermore, the petition argues that with Emergency Regulations no longer in effect since 2011, High Security Zones all over the country have ceased to exist.
In his petition, he says he visited his land in August 2011 and was permitted to examine the property by security forces. He was informed that his land fell within the high security zone area but that the security perimeter was being rolled back and he would be utilise his land fully. Thereafter when Kadirgamar visited his land in May 2013 he was perturbed to find that construction had commenced in the vicinity of his property. “The Petitioner fears that the construction, which in his experience as an architect has progressed for about 9 – 12 months, may well extend to his property as well. The purpose of the construction is not ascertainable,” his petition filed in the Court of Appeal said.
The petition argues that Kadirgamar is being unlawfully and wrongfully prevented from returning to enjoy his land including by the erection of barbed wire fences and barricades manned by armed forces personnel and by the unauthorised construction taking place in the vicinity of the property.
In his petition, Sri Raghavan Kadirgamar says his link to his land in the Northern Province is crucial to his family’s identity. “The Petitioners state that the said Tesawalamai applies to Tamil persons of the Province of Jaffna and their families, provided they have not given up links to their land in the Jaffna Province.” the petition states.
According to legal experts under Tesawalamai Law, first right of refusal to land in the Jaffna peninsula belongs to the traditional inhabitants of those properties.
Minister Kadirgamar’s land is allegedly being used to construct a palatial home for a VVIP, sources said.
Attorney at Law J.C. Weliamuna and others will be appear on behalf of the Minister’s son in the case.
Read the full petition here