The Government intends to introduce certain amendments to the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill at the Committee Stage in Parliament, the Secretary to the President informed the Supreme Court.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera made these remarks when the 19 Special Determination petitions filed challenging the constitutionality of the 5-7 Member Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill were taken up before the Supreme Court Five-Judge Bench.
President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva said his client, the Secretary to the President has sent a letter to the Attorney General suggesting several amendments to be brought at the Committee Stage in Parliament. The copies of the document were handed over among the parties including the petitioners and intervenient petitioners.According, the Secretary to the President insisted that the Government is agreeable to consider moving the proposed amendments at the Committee Stage in Parliament. The proposed amendments will be submitted for approval of the Cabinet of Ministers before the Bill is taken up in Parliament in order to ensure that procedural requirements are well addressed.
Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel appearing for the Attorney General commenced her oral submission replying to the submissions made by petitioners challenging the constitutionality of the Bill.
“This is a unique Act, intending to create an entity that is unknown to the law. It is seeking to set up an institution that we have not seen before, but which is a policy decision of the government.”
Jameel said the Government has followed due process pertaining to the proposed Bill. “The Bill itself is a reflection of the Budget proposals of 2020. This particular Budget proposal was then embodied in a Cabinet memorandum which was formulated by the President on December 21, 2020. That was presented to the Cabinet and approved by the Cabinet,” she added.
A Supreme Court five-judge-bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Priyantha Jayawardena, Murdu Fernando and Janak de Silva fixed further hearing for today (23). The Additional Solicitor General is to continue her further oral submissions from 10 am today. Nineteen petitions have been filed so far against the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.
The petitioners are seeking a declaration that the Bill in whole or in part requires the approval by people at a Referendum and requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Eleven intervention petitioners including Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary Attorney Sagara Kariyawasam, Athula de Silva, SLPP Lawyers’ Association, Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Secretary to the Cabinet Ministers have sought the Court’s permission to present their submissions, in support of the Bill.