EFL wins Galle Face Green case: SC orders Rs 50,000 costs against UDA
The Environmental Foundation Limited has announced that a three judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, has allowed the Fundamental Rights application filed by EFL and set aside an agreement entered into by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and a private company of the EAP Edirisinghe Group.

The agreement would have allowed the company to take over Galle Face Green to set up an entertainment centre for the public. When news of this agreement came into the public domain in early 2004, EFL wrote letters to the UDA and the private company asking for the disclosure of the agreement together with the development plan and the vesting order vesting Galle Face Green under the UDA.

UDA replied refusing to disclose the said document. EFL thereupon filed Fundamental Rights application No. 47/ 2004 stating that its fundamental rights under Articles 12 (1), 14 (1) (a) and 14 (1) (g) of the Constitution had been infringed.

When the case was supported in 2004, a Stay Order was issued restraining the Respondents from bringing the said agreement into operation pending the hearing and final determination of the application. Three Respondents filed objections and the 2nd Respondent filed a copy of the said agreement.

When the matter was taken for argument on 2nd November 2005, it appeared that no vesting order vesting Galle Face Green in the UDA could be produced.
In the course of argument, counsel for the Petitioner requested Court to set aside the agreement in the exercise of the Court’s inherent jurisdiction under Article 126 (4), as the agreement was clearly ultra vires the Urban Development Authority law and contrary to the public interest.

In the course of this judgment, the Supreme Court referred to the fact that Galle Face Green had been dedicated to the public by the Colonial Governor, Sir Henry Ward and that the Government of Sri Lanka as the successor to the Colonial Government, should honour this pledge and allocate adequate resources to the maintenance of Galle Face Green.

The Court set aside the agreement and declared that the fundamental rights of the Environmental Foundation Limited had been violated and ordered Rs 50,000 costs against the UDA.

Ms I. R. Rajepakse with Ms Pamoda Rajakeeya appeared for Petitioner EFL.
Romesh De Silva, Presidents Counsel with Sugath Caldera appeared for the 1st Respondent UDA. S. A. Parthalingam, Presidents Counsel with S. Cooray appeared for 2nd Respondent E.A.P. Group of Companies and M. Pulle, State Counsel appeared for the Attorney General.

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