16 June, 2021

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Supreme Court Delivers Stinging Rebuke Of Govt’s Port City Bill: Full Text Of The SC Determination

The Supreme Court has delivered a stinging rejection of the Government’s Port City bill, ruling that several provisions of the highly controversial legislation were inconsistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Jayantha Jayasuriya CJ

The Speaker of Parliament read the determination by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka to the House a few moments ago. The determination by the court is that many provisions of the Port City Special Economic Zone Bill (Port City Bill) require either a super majority in Parliament to be enacted, and in some cases both a two thirds in the House and a referendum of the people.

The determination strikes a deathblow to the Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration’s hopes to push the bill through Parliament in the form Beijing preferred, with sweeping powers vested in a special commission that would govern the reclaimed city with no oversight from mainland Sri Lanka or its national legislature.

Foreign media reports indicated that major concessions by the Nandasena Government on this piece of legislation that will govern the China built island in Colombo were part of the negotiations between Colombo and Beijing, as it negotiated an economic lifeline of USD 500 million to service external debt.

It is the first major defeat the former Defence Secretary’s government has faced in court.

The rebuke is particularly stinging because the Government did everything in its power to limit the time-frame open for citizens to challenge the bill in the Supreme Court. The bill was tabled in Parliament in the middle of the New Year holiday season in April. However the Supreme Court heard from 19 or more petitioners including political parties, Buddhist monks, Transparency International, Center for Policy Alternatives. The bill is fraught with controversy, after the Government vested supreme control in an economic commission that would rule the reclaimed island off Galle Face.

The bill made Port City companies exempt from customs and inland revenue regimes, parliamentary oversight and control over taxation and other financial measures. Adding insult to injury, members of the Commission did not have to be Sri Lankan citizens. Critics accused the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of trying to create a separate administrative region for China to control within the territory of Sri Lanka. Anti-corruption watchdogs warned that the bill could pave the way for the Port City to become a money laundering hub.

Further compounding matters, it was exposed that an extremely close associate of Presidential Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera was the main legal consultant for Colombo Port City, and negotiated the controversial draft legislation and even drafted parts of it. Jaysundera, as Secretary to the President, appeared in the Supreme Court as an intervenient petitioner, to defend the Port City bill. Appearing as counsel for Jayasundera, Romesh De Silva PC argued that a foreigner could even be Chief Justice of Sri Lanka because there were no constitutional barriers to this.

Legal experts warned that the Government could still attempt to “sneak in” the powers to the Commission when the bill is in Commission stage, where every amendment will pass with only a simple majority. Successive governments have utilized this major lacuna in the law to enact provisions that are never subject to judicial oversight. Sri Lanka’s constitution does not provide for post-enactment judicial review of legislation.

Attorney Gehan Gunetilleke tweeted the key provisions of the Port City Bill the Supreme Court has found to be inconsistent with the constitution. In some cases, the Court has suggested amendments to bring the provisions in line with the constitution.

Full determination of the Supreme Court on Port City Bill can be read here

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Latest comments

  • 18
    1

    Over to Laksiri / Rusiri duo.

  • 28
    5

    This is nothing.

    When has anything stopped the Rajapakses?

    Last time, they removed the Chief Justice in 3 days.

    Not in all …… but at least in some things the Rajapakses are world-class!

    Oh! Boy! I just love the Rajapakses ……… along with the 6.9 million ………….

    • 16
      7

      nimal fernando,
      I agree with you. We, the readers here in CT has no knowledge about what is going to come. Tomorrow is sure for us only if the Sun comes up in the sky. There is nothing to celebrate at this point. Further if Aanduwa is not doing what China says, there will be another $280M penalty.

    • 14
      2

      Nimal,
      You’re right. Mere legal quibbles won’t stop the Rajapaksas. Nandasena will just carry on as if nothing has happened. He can hardly do otherwise, since his crown jewels are in China’s tight grip. Basil has already run away.

    • 3
      0

      Sinhala people voted to the Rajapaksas to power and they will anything to remain in power. Sinhala people did not struggle for independence and thus they may not understand the value of independence.

      Sri Lanka will continue to deteriorate in every sense and likely become a colony of China.

  • 23
    2

    What will happen if the Super Power President use his super power with his military to over rule the supreme court decision?

    • 4
      0

      We all can start learning Chinese as quickly as possible.

      • 2
        0

        Future Sri Lanka.

        “China wants everything from Africa: its strategic location, its oil, its rare earth metals, and its fish, leaving African nations indebted to Beijing.

        In its long history, Africa has served the global ambitions of many foreigners. Foreigners have reached out to Africa as missionaries, financiers, and infrastructure builders.They have promised to place the continent on the globalization map and help its people grow out of poverty. But they ended up grabbing Africa’s riches, colonizing one nation after another, and letting their people steep in poverty.

        That may end up being the case again, with China’s recent infrastructure investment projects in the continent.

        On the surface, these projects seem to serve the quest of African nations to build a sound infrastructure. But on closer examination, they serve China’s ambitions to write the rules of the next stage of globalization.

        China wants to use Africa as a location to secure maritime roads (and the OBOR projects) thatfacilitate Chinese exports, as evidenced by Beijing’s large military presence in Djibouti.”

    • 0
      0

      An eye opener where Sinhala Bada Lanka is at.

      “My vaccination experience in our ‘disciplined’ society”
      themorning.lk

  • 27
    2

    They gave us a loan of 500Million US dollars which has to be paid back with interest. Then gutted any chance Sri Lanka had of earning anything from the port city. Heads we loose tails we loose the is the Chyna mantra. The 6.9 million idiots probably don’t care. None of this will be published honestly in the two private mouth pieces or the State owned ones.

    • 5
      1

      Thiha, Cannot believe this as 6.9 million people are of the thought that China is the greatest and best friend of Sri Lanka. How can this happen? Canot entertain that thought though.

  • 18
    4

    6.9 million voters voted mostly listening to the Buddhists Monks. Can they express their opinion on the Port City bill? The Government should instruct the Judges to comply with what ever Laws they want to enact against the interests of the country. It’s TIME for the country to get rid of the “MENACE”

  • 24
    4

    I share the concerns of many. Rajapaksas are here to stay and no one can change the fate of this failed nation. It is now between two families , Covid and the Mafia, who is more virulent and morbid ???.

  • 13
    3

    Would this stop the Rajapakses going the full hog?
    Most probably not!

    As the legal experts have warned the Govt: will SNEAK IN the Powers to the Commission when the Bill is in Committee stage,where every Amendment will pass with only a simple Majority.

  • 9
    4

    This is not Chinese Embassy verdict. We need to wait for that too. After freedom, there might have been a million complains filed that the Tamils was missing in important Bill Boards in Tamils’ residential areas. It never worked. Earlier Aanduwa had told that there is nothing preventing Chinese from using Chinese only Bill Boards. This time Sanakian MP took the matter to Chinese Embassy. Embassy ruled that Three Language Policy prevails. Chinese Embassy is a better court to Lankaweyans than Aanduwa’s supreme court. We cannot say ” thank you” for Aanduwa’ arrogance. But “Thank you Chinese Ambassador to take action to include Tamil in your bill boards.”

  • 18
    4

    Soon Nandasena will remove the obstacles in the Supreme Court and pack it with more “yes men/women”…..problems solved. That is how dictator’s operate.

    • 1
      1

      Ashan,
      I salute to your ” always serious” comments. But please do not take too seriously CT’s heading on this. Supreme Court and Royal Places took all these times to review, edit, rewrite, and present it. They know what they are doing. They withdraw from Banda – Chelva pact (Resolution 30), which they wrote with UNHRC. Nothing happened. But Ranil, for election victory, delayed the Pong Cing Project from January to August. He paid $280M. Still, they can’t get the full title for Pahatuwa Tower, but paid a $15M fines. Do you think the SC slaves wrote something Royals don’t wanted in that draft (I have no idea of reading). What happened to CJ Shiranee’s job? Can you tell how did Justice Sriskandarajah died and why family refused allow any friendly lawyers from BASL or public to his funeral? May had obligations to repay him back, though. Do think Jeyam Jeyam is that kind of a moron or sincere justice to go against Royals? You know AG Thabla is already negotiating his next job to give up this job.

      Just leave CT alone CT celebrate its Court Victory with firecrackers and Kiri Bath. If you disturb it, it will be annoyed and sprang you.

  • 8
    1

    As it negotiated an economic lifeline of USD 500 million to service external debt.

    The future genration must pay the bill and most presnted such will not be living at that time

  • 7
    2

    What is the difference between the Port City and giving Hambantota harbour for 99 years to the Chinese ?

    • 0
      0

      Who did it.

  • 8
    1

    An Embassy compound in a host country is not subject to the host country laws and regulations and constitution.

    Chinese embassy can extend its compound to the port city or relocate the embassy to to port city and declare that the entire post city is Chinese Embassy compound.

    Rajapaksa’s will agree to that
    job done

  • 6
    1

    Our main problem is we don’t know the right politics and the right economic
    approach and we don’t even want to know them both but we have bogus
    experts whose knowledge is time to time hired by crooked politics to serve
    inflate political image for self-serving purpose . This is an endless curse !
    People’s hard earned money in dollars is just wasted on carnivals in different
    names of developments that is used to fool the vulnerable masses . Try to buy
    a house on 100% borrowed money and start paying back , you will get to know
    the magic ! No country will come to beautify you with their money for free .
    And China is no exception ! Today , many are still in the dark about what these
    guys Basil and Gota did for living in the US ! Worked in Filling stations is the
    most rumoured story but nothing is known for sure ! Of course we can ignore it
    if they know the job they have undertaken but now that they are playing hell
    with people’s lives , one needs to question them about their jobs in the US .
    Nagananda says Basil stated that Ukranian tourists were brought down here to
    try how covid spreads among the locals ! A very serious charge people don’t even
    seem to know . A real hell !

    • 0
      0

      WW
      This is only a light remark:
      “Try to buy a house on 100% borrowed money and start paying back , you will get to know the magic ! “
      That is almost how most first time house ownership happens in Britain.
      *
      The point is that the investment should pay good dividends. In that case one soon pays back the loan and makes good profit.
      Our problem is that very little economic or business analysis goes into projects.
      *
      I think that your comment on G & B brothers is unfair. They did not work in filling stations for a living and, even if they did, what is wrong as long as they did not steal.
      *
      Did Nagananda name a source? This country lives on gossip. Do take care before citing people.

  • 4
    1

    Hats for Supreme Court Judges. They have given the verdict without fear from Rajapakse mobs with Chinese assistance Chinaman did not work with Sri Lankan Judiciary Rajapakse dynasty will try another way to outwit the EC judgment Thnka to the Lawyers who argued for the petioners

    • 2
      7

      “Hats for Supreme Court Judges.”
      Thoppi thamai!
      *
      Do you often wake up in the night screaming “The Chinese have come”?

    • 2
      0

      Kuviyam,
      .
      Chinese agents would not stop supporting chinese invasion. They get paid for their job.
      :
      We have got few on this platform that would not constantly support the chinese no matter even if their lovely ones would have been caught by chinese terror.
      :

  • 0
    4

    Can’t understand the fuss is about the Port City and Chinese

    This country is full of invaders and migrants. Only traces are there of the original ethnic community in the mixture of cultures today. We had the Bengalis, North and South Indians, West Asians, Portugese, Dutch, English. – Ah almost forgot – the Malays and Africans. Any more ?
    What an array of races. So now we welcome the Chinese and whats wrong in it. Its just adding another shade of colour.

  • 2
    5

    I wonder what comments here would have been like if the Supreme Court made a different kind of ruling.
    There was so much speculation here more than hinting at that possibility.
    Had anybody the decency to say “Sorry I misjudged the judges”?
    Sorry, that is a dirty word.

    • 3
      3

      Yes I read you were many times writing that previous AG (Comedian, who to become the CJ, always interpreted the constitution to the way his bosses wanted, but the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal & Ranil & his gang like Mangala, Hakeem, Mano Ganeshan, a 122 MPs and Ministers…..cheated in 2018 Coup making the SC to go flasely to against his interpretation of consultation only to release Old King and New King from Bogambara ropes for plotting a coup against the democratically elected government) but all other moron in the CT ignored your hard labored material to read even to follow your example that after you ever wrote something indecent or wrong, but on every comment ask 10 apologies!
      (You are the real product of Badiyudeen’s cesspool system)

    • 5
      1

      SJ ,

      This S C ” Determination ” and its fast delivery and Speaker’s
      too good Announcement are all ” too too too good ” to digest
      all at once . Let’s be a little more patient for another few days !
      Something somewhere terribly missing . Soon there could be
      some sensation , let’s just be patient , nothing to lose !

      • 0
        7

        ww
        Mine was only an expression of amusement of reader responses.
        The alchemy that transforms good into bad and vice versa has always entertained me.
        *
        I am surprised that there are only two red thumbs yet.

        • 0
          0

          S.J
          Yes, I believe the current AG and CJ were spineless puppets not so long ago.

          • 0
            0

            OC
            Glad you said it.
            What caused the ‘transformation’ deserves some thought.
            I doubt if they had implants.

        • 0
          0

          SJ ,
          Thank you for the reply . Yes , I do understand your point and at
          the same time I wanted to take it with a pinch of salt honestly !
          People generally have knowledge about the governments they
          elect to govern them . It is a joke neither the people nor the
          governments trust each other ! What a funny people and the
          country ! People have lost trust in every single institute in the
          country and it has taken them to this height and when would
          you be able to reverse this ? Very sorry situation !

          • 0
            0

            ww
            Honestly, I did not expect a firmly critical response from the SC. It was a surprise to that extent.
            Even if there is no hidden agenda, it will make sense to see what tricks the government will be up to to have its way.
            Many responses are plain impulsive or rehashed empty slogans.
            *
            As you say, let us wait and see.

  • 6
    1

    First a big “THANK YOU” for the Supreme Court. Secondly a “CONDEMNATION” of the entire “CABINET” headed by the President for “Approving” the proposed “Act” of Parliament to set up the “Port City” completely “OUT” of and in “VIOLATION” of very important provisions of the “Sri Lanka Democratic, Socialist Republic”. Remember: “Don Juan Dharmapala” who handed over “Sinhale” to “Foreign Powers” through a “Pice Of Paper” signed by him. Now, think of “Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapakse” – the Presiden, together with his “Cabinet of Minister” (including his brother Mahinda Rajapakse as the Prime Minister”) “APPROVING” an “ACT OF PARLIAMENT” to “HAND OVER” the newly added piece of “LAND” of Sri Lanka to “CHINA”. Fortunately, we have an Institution called “Supreme Court” to “STOP” that “Surrender” of our country to China. This “DIYASENA KUMARAYA” elected by the “6.9 million” on the “Advice” and “Sponsorship” of the “Sinhala Buddhist Sangha” and the “Viyathmaga” is now proved to be the “RE_INCARNATION” of “Don Juan Dharmapala”. Thirdly, another “BIG” “THANK YOU” to all the: PETITIONERS” who challenged that proposed “ACT” within “ONE DAY” spoiling the “CROOKED” act of the “TRAITORS” (The entire Cabinet who approved it) to “Surrender the “SOVEREIGNITY” of the country and the “SUPREME” authority of the PEOPLE.

  • 4
    1

    Is the verdict a vindication of our Judiciary?
    Not at all.
    .
    What was at stake was the well-being of the country, – read Sinhalese people here. The Judiciary has no hesitation in dispensing what is necessary to safeguard the majority community. It has happened in the past; it will happen in the future.
    .
    The Judiciary gets deliberately erratic only when the destiny of ‘others’ is involved.

    • 0
      6

      SC Judges,
      No brownie points.
      You cannot win them all.

  • 2
    0

    Now the 6.8 million morons will realise that had they handed over N&E to VP to run none of these problem would have happened. By the way is it true that Basil has bolted with a loot if $150 million?

    • 1
      0

      Black Lankan ,

      Are you planning to write ” Pohottu Baba and 225 Thieves ?”
      Or still better ” Pohottu Baba and 6.9 million Thieves ? “

  • 0
    0

    I commented previously on the alleged statement that a Chief Justice being a foreigner as a veiled threat on those who think that they ought to get the job next. Nevertheless, the court ruled pointing on obvious flaws. What could this mean? Is it that the bill was presented in its egregious form just to satisfy a hidden hand and this ruling now serves as an excuse to say that “CAN’T HELP MACHCHANG! I DID MY BEST”? The major flaw in the system, as pointed out, is that a Bill that cannot be passed through a simple majority as it is, due to “offending” clauses, can still go through after introducing “suitable amendments”, without the need to have a check again on the constitutionality. This trick was first made use of in enacting the thirteenth amendment to the constitution when JRJ was facing the wrath of Rajiv Gandhi, making use of judgement of a single judge. Rice bags to Jaffna and perhaps bombs to Colombo. It is natural to surmise that such hidden hands know about the Sri Lankan “system” and has another draft hidden up their sleeves which can be more offensive than the first.

  • 0
    0

    I welcome the decision of the supreme court. However I do not expect the matter to be over. They’ll use their super majority given by the Buddhist Sinhalese masses to circumvent the supreme courts decision.
    I certainly foresee a bunch of saffron cloaked morons shouting preeth and demonstrating in the not too distant future, hoping Lord Buddha might come to their salvage. So borrow the money from China and build Buddha viharas in the north and east of the island. waste more money building war memorials, while the people are starving and without homes.
    I suppose the writing was on the wall. Lotus Tower First, lotus Symbol next… An election won with the open unashamed collusion with China. There were enough red flags folks.

  • 1
    0

    China is certainly will be the next Super Power that worries the Western countries very badly.

    Western colonialism has looted may nations’ wealth, left those nations in a mess with ethnic tensions resulting oppression by the majority rulers against Natives/other races despite they lived with sovereignty and independence prior to colonialism. Instead of supporting freedom struggle from state oppression, accountability and deliver Justice to victims, Western Leaders opted to support oppressive regimes, applied Double standard and Apartheid policies as more human sufferings globally since WWII.

    It’s not a surprise that people and countries that are affected by colonialism in the past are now supporting the Chinese.

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