SC concludes hearing petitions against Port City Bill; determination to the Speaker

SC concludes hearing petitions against Port City Bill; determination to the Speaker

SC concludes hearing petitions against Port City Bill; determination to the Speaker

Written by Staff Writer

23 Apr, 2021 | 6:11 pm

Colombo (News 1st); Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court concluded the consideration of petitions filed challenging the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill on Friday (23) and announced that the determination will be directed to the Speaker of Parliament.

Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya nominated a full bench comprising five judges of the Supreme Court to hear Special Determination petitions filed challenging the constitutionality of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

Accordingly, these petitions were heard before a five-judge-bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Murdu Fernando, and Justice Janak de Silva.

Several amendments to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission bill were submitted and among the amendments was a requirement that a majority of the members of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission should be Sri Lankan nationals.

Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s Department submitted to the court that there are no impediments against the regulatory authorities to exercise their statutory functions at the Colombo Port City.

In addition, an amendment that requires the regulatory authorities to communicate their decision to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission was included, and this replaced the previous clause that read “provide such concurrence to the commission”

She went on to note that the Colombo Port City Economic Commission would also function as a regulator within the area of authority with the concurrence of the other respective statutory regulatory authorities.

Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel highlighted the fact that as the regulations for the imposition of levies and other charges in the Port City are required to be approved by parliament, there is no violation of parliament’s control over public finances as required by the constitution.

Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel further pointed out to the court that the mandatory arbitration clause has not in any way ousted the jurisdiction of the Court, and that parties could seek the redress of local courts if they wish to do so.

The Additional Solicitor General highlighted the fact that the bill is drafted in such a way as to attract foreign investors and pointed out that they would be more likely to accept an internationally accepted arbitration procedure than submit to the jurisdiction of a foreign court.

The section imposing criminal sanctions for the contravention of rules, codes, directions, or guidelines issued under the act was also removed as per the new amendments submitted to the court.

The Supreme Court bench pointed out that the publication of rules made under the act in the gazette needs to be done within a specific period and that this period should be included in the relevant section.

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