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Setting up regional committee, regional fund under P-TOMS :

Order reserved regarding interim relief

The Supreme Court yesterday reserved order with regard to the interim relief to stay the establishment of the Regional Committee and the Regional Fund under the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure agreement for Friday (15) in the Fundamental Rights applications filed by JVP MPs and two petitioners backed by the Jathika Hela Urumaya.

The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva PC and Justices Raja Fernando and Nimal Gamini Amaratunga.

Attorney General K.C. Kamalasabeyson PC producing a document of signed by the secretary to the Treasury submitted that if the petitioners were agreeable to the document the agreement would be implemented in the light of it.

He submitted that in terms of the document the local funds could be chandelled through the Treasury and the custodian of the Regional Fund would be the World Bank.

The Attorney General answering a question by the Court submitted that he would not concede to the petitioners case.

At the outset President's Counsel R.K.W. Gunasekera for the Secretary to the Ministry submitted that the petitioners did not have a stand to file the fundamental right applications since they were not directly affected by the tsunami. He further submitted that the none of the people who had been affected by the tsunami had not been made a party to the application.

The court observed that the fundamental rights applications did have a public component. The counsel submitted that the petitioner should clearly show as to how the petitioners had been affected by the tragedy. He submitted that petitioners should have sought relief by way of a writ application. He submitted that the he would object to the interim relief on the same grounds.

President's Counsel Nigel Hatch for the respondent Ministry Secretary stated that the President had given the authority to his client to sign, the agreement signed and the President had vested with the executive power to do so in terms of the Article 4 (b) of the Constitution. He submitted that the apprehensions of the petitioners were baseless since the agreement was only an administrative set up for equitable distribution of relief only for one year.

He submitted that the Clause 6 of the agreement provide for the safeguard against any arbitrary or discriminatory action. The court however, noted that the freedom in the decision making process should be protected. The court expressed concern that two members representing the government in the contemplated Regional Committee could not possibly object to any arbitrary decision by the LTTE. The court also noted that the regional committee should be based where the affected people should have easy access and Kilinochchi was not even affected by the tsunami.

President's Counsel H.L. De Silva submitted that the agreement had not come before the Cabinet or before the parliament denying rights of the petitioners. He submitted that in terms of the Ceasefire Agreement the government could engage in the humanitarian activities in the LTTE controlled areas and the LTTE should allow the flow of the non-military goods. He submitted that the agreement would only facilitate their position to achieve the ulterior motives to override the sovereignty of the country.

Counsel S.L. Gunasekera submitted that the once the funds pass out the control of the government it would not be accountable by any means. He submitted that the court had a duty by the tsunami victims, the security of the people and the security forces to manage the funds.

Petitioners 39 JVP MPs including Wimal Weerawansa, Jayantha Wijesekera and Lakshman Nipunaarachchi and two petitioners backed by JHU Ven. Ambalanthota Chandima Thera of Metthawasaya of Wellawa, Ambalanthota and H.K. Don Patrick Susantha of Thiriyaya, a fisherman had cited Secretary to the Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction M.S. Jayasinghe, S. Rajan and the Attorney General as the respondents.

They stated that the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) was unconstitutional and illegal. The order would be delivered on July 15.



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