Land takeover: SC refuses to give ruling

By Chandani Kirinde

The Supreme Court has decided not to make a determination on a bill intended to amend the Town and Country Planning Ordinance on the grounds that it has been placed on the Order Paper of Parliament without complying with the constitutional requirement that it be first referred to the Provincial Councils (PCs) for their views.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa announced the Supreme Court decision to Parliament yesterday on the amendment bill which would enable the Government to acquire lands for economic, social, historical, environmental and religious purposes within municipal and urban areas.

The three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayaka said there was no submission made by the Deputy Solicitor General to Court that the bill under reference had been referred to the Provincial Councils by the President as stipulated in Article 154 (G) (3) of the Constitution.

The Court said the bill was about a matter set out in the Provincial Council list and shall not become law unless it had been referred by the President to every PC. “As the bill has been placed in the Order Paper of Parliament without the compliance with the said provision in the Constitution, the court would not make any determination at this stage on the other grounds on which it was challenged,” the court said.

The provisions of the bill are to promote and regulate a system of integrated planning and development for securing proper infrastructure. It enables the authorities concerned to declare land areas as conservation areas, protected areas, architectural and historical areas and sacred areas.

The court said the bill dealt with integrated planning in relation to the economic, social, historic, environmental, physical and religious aspects of land and noted that land is a subject on the Provincial Council List with PCs being given rights in or over land, land tenure, transfer, alienation, use and improvement.

The Court determined that since such procedure has not been complied with as regards this bill, it should not become law unless it was referred by the President to every PC as per the constitutional requirement. The bench also comprised Justices K. Sripavan and Chandra Ekanayaka.

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