Further consideration of Yugadanavi petitions in January

Further consideration of Yugadanavi petitions in January

December 17, 2021   05:30 pm

The Supreme Court has concluded day two of hearing of Fundamental Rights petitions filed against the Yugadanavi Power Plant deal.

The petitions were taken up for consideration before Supreme Court’s five-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Priyantha Jayawardena, Vijith Malalgoda and L.T.B. Dehideniya earlier today.

The FR petitions were put forward by the Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Venerable Elle Gunawansa Thero, Samagi Jana Balawegaya, former parliamentarians of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Sunil Handunnetti and Wasantha Samarasinghe and a group including Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thero, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara and Dr. Wasantha Bandara.

The petitioners have challenged the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to transfer shares in West Coast Power Limited (WCP) - the owner of the 310 MW Yugadanavi Power Plant to the US-based New Fortress Energy.

During the proceedings, Attorney General Sanjaya Rajaratnam told the Supreme Court that affidavits filed by Ministers Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila with regard to these FR petitions are unconstitutional.

He said the three ministers are duty-bound to protect the unity of the Cabinet, adding that filing of affidavits by those who have sworn to uphold the Constitution is a violation in itself.

Following this, the attorney-at-law representing the three Cabinet ministers, President’s Counsel Uditha Igalaheva made submissions stating at the outset that the Cabinet memorandum on the agreement was not presented at the Cabinet meeting held on September 06.

Meanwhile, Legal Secretary of SJB, President’s Counsel Thisath Wijayagunawardane, who appeared on behalf of the party’s General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, accused the Cabinet of violating its mandate to stand for the interests of the people through its involvement in the deal.

The agreement also stands in violation of the country’s national energy policy which stipulates the need for transparency and a proper tender procedure when dealing with the country’s energy infrastructure, he added.

He also claimed that the agreement contradicts the national policy on natural gas formulated by the government in 2020.

According to that policy, gas-related agreements should be done in a transparent manner and follow a proper tender procedure, but this agreement has not, the SJB’s legal secretary continued.

He added that the Cabinet clearly did not have a formal understanding of the agreement and has violated the public mandate.

The president’s counsel went on to accuse the government of failing to assess the proper share value prior to the transfer and chided the Cabinet for not paying sufficient attention to the matter.

This, he stated, has led to a great loss for the people, by the Cabinet having acted not in the interests of the people but for the benefit of the outsiders.

He further accused the government of having gifted a five-year monopoly to the U.S. company which he said is against the law.

He also informed the court that Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara had requested the Finance Minister to discuss the resolution which had not been passed by the Cabinet.

The petitions will be called before the Supreme Court bench again on January 10, 2022.

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