representation lacking in P-TOMS: JHU tells Court
Not to be outdone by the JVP the Jathika Hela Urumaya filed a fundamental
rights petition last week challenging the the Post Tsunami Operational
Management Structure agreement.
petition on behalf of the JHU was filed last Tuesday in the Supreme
Court by two tsunami-affected citizens, requesting Court to declare
the agreement null and void and issue an order restraining its enforcement.
Manohara de Silva and K.H.C. Kahandawala appearing for the petetioners
named Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Ministry Secretary
M. S. Jayasinghe who signed on behalf of the Government and the
Planning and Development Secretariat Head Shanmugalingam Ranjan,
who signed on behalf of the LTTE as first and the second respondents.
The Attorney General was cited as the third respondent.
Ven. Ambalantota Chandima Thera of Hambantota and Don Patrick Susantha
a fisherman from Trincomalee who were affected by the tsunami were
the petitioners. The JHU petition challenged the lack of Sinhala
representation and charged that though the P-TOMS agreement referred
to six districts in the North and East, in actual terms it could
be interpreted to include all coastal districts affected by the
petition said the P-TOMS was drafted to address the concerns of
all persons in the tsunami disaster zone (TDZ). It was specifically
stated in the P-TOMS that “the TDZ shall include all the tsunami
affected land areas of Sri Lanka, which is adjacent to the sea,
within the limit of two kilometres landwards..”.
petition claimed there was no Sinhala representation or any assurance
of Sinhala representation in the High Level Committee while Tamil
and Muslim ethnic groups were given representation in this Committee.
to the P-TOMS agreement the executive and legislative powers of
the State relating to Social Service and Rehabilitation had been
alienated and abdicated to the HLC not established by law in violation
of the sovereignty vested in the people by the Constitution and
as a result infringed the fundamental rights of the people, including
sovereignty, the petitioners charged.
petition said the Government of Sri Lanka cannot represent or act
in the interest of any race in the HLC as it would then violate
the principles of State policy and other provisions in the Constitution.
agreement had denied to the Sinhala people equal protection of the
law and protection from discrimination as guaranteed by the Constitution,
the petitioners charged.
said since the Regional Committee (RC) had exclusive powers to act
within the TDZ no other body could act to perform the functions
vested in the RC whose chairperson would necessarily be an LTTE
representative with voting rights.
any event the LTTE and Muslim representatives of the RC could decide
issues against the interest of Sinhala people with a two-thirds
majority, the petitioners claimed.
petition said it was arbitrary and in violation of the Constitution
to locate the RC in Killinochchi as more than 85% of the coastal
area was not under the LTTE and as a result the Muslim and government
representatives would not be free to express their views and exercise
their voting rights according to their conscience.
petitioners charged that although all foreign and local funds received
by the government should form part of the Consolidated Fund, these
funds would be channelled to the Regional Fund, not set up by an
Act of Parliament. The petitioners claimed that the Regional Fund
was not subject to the control of the Auditor General and this was
in violation of the Constitution as the P-TOMS provides for an independent
accountant to be appointed by the RC.
pleaded that the Supreme Court declare that the petitioners’
fundamental rights had been infringed upon and to declare the P-TOMS
agreement and the decision of the government or the respondents
to bind the government to its terms to enter in to such an agreement
as null and void.