SC dams the ditch

Residents take Minister Mervyn, Kelaniya PS chairman to court

Residents of Kelaniya’s Jayanthi Mawatha have taken Minister Mervyn Silva and the Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha to the Supreme Court and obtained a restraining order that prevents the council from demolishing their houses and parapet walls to build a ditch. The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) from building the ditch for four weeks. The Pradeshiya Sabha had argued that the ditch was necessary to prevent flooding.

The petitioners, Sumanagala Samaraweera, who is the opposition leader of the PS, Shyama Samaraweera, Sunil Rajapakse, Sukith Priyadharshana, Palitha Wanigasuriya, Hamanmali Sudharashani and Gunaratna Weerasinghe cited Minister Silva, Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Prasanna Ranaweera and the Road Development Authority among others as responsdents.

Mervyn Silva Prasanna Ranaweera

Upul Jayasuriya, counsel for the petitioners, told court that his clients had been living at Jayanthi Mawatha since 1960 and had built their houses and parapet walls in keeping with the rules and regulations of the law.

He said the residents received a letter from the PS on August 25 saying that under the instruction of Minister Silva, the council had decided to construct a ditch to prevent flooding during the rainy season.

The residents were asked to attend a meeting at the PS on August 26 and warned that if they did not attend the meeting, the council would assume that they had no objection to the construction of the ditch, Mr. Jayasuriya said in his submission.

Petitioner and PS opposition leader Sumanagala Samaraweera said he was against the ditch project because it was being built to punish him.

He charged the project was part of a political witch-hunt because he spurned UPFA members who wanted him to defect to their side.

Mr. Sarmaraweera alleged that he had been harassed and abused by UPFA members in the PS and intimidated by Minister Silva.

He said the move to build the ditch demolishing the houses and parapet walls of Jayanthi Mawatha was arbitrary, capricious and illegal and violated his fundamental rights and those of the other petitioners under article 12(1) of the constitution.The bench comprised Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justices Gamini Amaratunge and C. Ekanayake. The bench directed the Court Registrar to inform the PS by telephone and telegram of the court’s decision on Friday itself.

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