The Centre for Policy Alternatives supported filing a writ application, CA (Writ) 125/2013 on 15th May 2013. The Petitioners, Arunasalam Kunabalasingham and 1473 others, who were landowners of a land located in the Northern Province in what was previously considered to be a High Security Zone (HSZ). The case was filed against steps by the government to take over the traditional lands constituting approximately 6381 acres for a purported public purpose. The reason for the supposed land requirement is to establish a ‘Defence Battalion Headquarters’ and presently the petitioners are being prevented from returning to their lands.
The petitioners state that the purported notices are unlawful as the said notices refer to “regularizing handover of area on which High Security Zone (Palaly and Kankesanthurei) is established’’ despite the lands within the area specified in the notice not forming part of any HSZ recognized by law as there are no HSZ in existence after the lapse of Emergency regulations in 2011. Further the Land Acquisition act in section 2 (2) states that the notices have to be in the Sinhala, Tamil and English whereas the said notices were published only in Tamil, and is therefore illegal. For the above reasons the petitioners have sought a writ of Certiorari to quash the notice and a writ of Prohibition preventing the implementation of the notice.
The matter came up on 20th May 2013 in the Court of Appeal, when the case was taken up, court was informed by counsel for the petitioners that it had been brought to the petitioners’ attention after the case was filed, that an order for urgent acquisition purportedly under section 38 proviso A of the Land Acquisition Act had also been published in a Government Gazette, which also the petitioners wish to challenge and have quashed by court. A motion was filed on behalf of the petitioners, presenting the Gazette publication to court. Counsel further stated that both the purported notice under section 2 of the Land Acquisition Act and the purported order under section 38 proviso A of that Act by the Minister of Land, were bad in law and liable to be quashed by court in the light of well-established principles of administrative law. Court permitted the petitioners’ application to amend the petition.
As it was brought to the attention of the court that this case has to be supported along with CA 135/2013 it was fixed for support on 30th May 2013. When the matter came up for objections on 24th February 2014 as the Attorney General’s Department had not filed objections (despite being given time on three previous occasions), The court granted further time to file objections on 9th May 2014. At the request of the Counsel for the Petitioners’, the court made 9th of May as the final date of objections. The matter will be mentioned on the same day.