Sinhala 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.

The 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.

Attorneys 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.

The 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 tsunami.

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..”.

The 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.

According 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.

The 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.

The agreement had denied to the Sinhala people equal protection of the law and protection from discrimination as guaranteed by the Constitution, the petitioners charged.

They 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.

In 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.

The 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.

The 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.

They 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.

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