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29th November 1998

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Thonda-Ratnasiri row to be settled

By S. S. Selvanayagam

A two-member ministerial committee has been appointed to resolve a land distribution dispute between ministers S. Thondaman and Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.

At the last Cabinet meeting when the dispute between the two ministers figured prominently, President Kumaratunga appointed Ministers Lakshman Jayakody and D. M. Jayaratne to study the matter and to submit a report within two weeks.

The dispute arose when Mr. Thondaman insisted that the 56 estate families in the Ingiriya area should be given 20 perches of land as approved by the Premadasa administration. But Mr. Wickremanayake had said only seven perches could be given to estate families as other villagers in the area were also to be given land.

CWC parliamentarian R. Yogarajan said they were not against the allocation of land to villagers but were insisting that 20 perches be allocated to the estate workers and leftover land could be distributed among the villagers.

The new ministerial committee will replace an earlier committee comprising secretaries of the Livestock Development & Estate Infrastructure Ministry and Public Administration, Home Affairs & Plantation Industries Ministry.

Mr. Wickremanayake last week accused Mr. Thondaman of spearheading an underhand campaign to defeat the votes of the Ministry of Public Administration and Plantation Industries.

The CWC said its campaign was largely to protest against the Public Administration Ministry's failure to implement the language policy.

The CWC, however, abandoned its campaign when Mr. Wickremanayake assured that the Tamil language policy would be implemented fully next year.

He said the ministry would recruit people proficient in Tamil language to be posted in government departments and institutions.

BASL past presidents call for action

By Ayesha R. Rafiq

Past Presidents of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka have decided to ask the Chief Justice to probe newspaper allegations against the Attorney General and two judges.

At a meeting on Thursday at the residence of Presdinet's Counsel H. L. de Silva, a past BASL president, they decided that BASL President Romesh de Silva, should meet Chief Justice G. P. S. de Silva as soon as possible, and ask him to proceed with investigations into the allegations made against the two judges and the AG, as the matters had been languishing for quite sometime.

Attorney Geenral Sarath N. Silva has been accused by the Ravaya newspaper of the alleged obstruction of justice in a divorce case, by attempting to influence district judge U. Abeyratne who was hearing the case.

Magistrate Lenin Ratnaike, has been accused of alleged rape by the Ravaya.

The investigations into charges against Judge Abeyratne although initiated by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) some time ago, have since been stalled, it was pointed out.

It was also decided that as the Women's Affairs Ministry had already begun an investigation into the charges against Mr.Ratnaike, the JSC too should begin its investigations. The JSC had appointed a three-man committee to look into the charges against Mr. Ratnaike more than two weeks ago.

The past BASL presidents agreed that once investigations into the Ravaya allegations against Judge Abeyratne were completed, the Chief Justice should be asked to probe allegations against the AG.

They also agreed that if the Ravaya allegations turned out to be wrong, the Chief Justice should be asked to take action against the newspaper.

There was also a suggestion that hereafter the President of the BASL should be appointed by the Past Presidents of the BASL and not let candidates stand for election, as has been the practice.

This was because of the need for a capable and responsible person to take up the post of president. There was however no decision made on this matter, and it was put off to be taken up at a later date.

Present at the meeting were H.L. de Silva, Desmond Fernando, Ranjit Abeysuriya, N.R.M. Daluwatte, D.W. Abaykoon and Romesh de Silva.

Herman Perera and Eardley Perera were absent.

Election fever hits Wayamba

By Dinith Karunaratne

Election fever in the Wayamba Province is on the rise as the ruling People's Alliance and the UNP jostle to grab power in the forthcoming Provincial Council elections, by launching propaganda campaigns.

Nominations for this election, which is scheduled to take place in mid January 1999, are to be handed in from December 1 - 8.

The PA nominee for Chief Minister is Deputy Minister of Indigenous Medicine S.B. Nawinna.

The UNP will hand in itsnominations without naming the main candidate for the Chief Minister's post. District organisations have requested the party to include MPs Upali Piyasoma, Ashoka Wadingamangava, A. H. M. Alavi and D.M. Bandaranayake in the candidate list, party sources said.

The PA publicity campaigns in the Wayamba Province are being handled by sub committees formed under the leadership of four cabinet Ministers while about 60 UNP MPs will carry out the UNP publicity campaigns.

Meanwhile speculation was rife that the United Lalith Front will jointly field its candidates with the UNP for the forthcoming north western provicial elections.

ULF Secretary T.M.S. Nanayakkara told The Sunday Times' the party had not taken an official decision on the matter, but admitted some members could contest under the UNP ticket.

President honours Army officers

President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday conferred the Visista Seva Vibushana on the following Army officers at a function held at the President's House.

Maj. Gen Jaliya Nammuni (Retd), Maj. Gen.H.S.Hapuararachichi (Retd), Maj. Gen.Asoka Silva (Retd), Maj. Gen.Asoka Jayawardena (Retd), Maj. Gen.Sathis Jayasundera, Maj. Gen. Patrick Fernando and Maj. Gen. Srilal Weerasooriya.

Death sentence for gruesome murder

By H.P.P Perera

The second accused in the murder of a woman who was dragged and dropped into a canal was sentenced to death by the high court Judge of Kalutara.

The Jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty.

The accused was Diyagal Durage Wijesiri alias Chooty Putha.

A case was filed against Kankanamge Padmasiri alias Jockim. Diyagal Durage Wijesiri and Kankanamge Nimalasiri for committing the murder of Kandadurage Sunandawathie alias Nondi Akka on January 13, 1987.

The first and third accused were acquitted.

Galle doctors protest against judge's action

Government doctors in Galle boycotted clinics for a day after one of their colleagues was warned in a Judge's chamber over his conduct.

Premachandra Gamage, a lawyer had collapsed when he was addressing the Galle High Court Judge, W.L.R. de Silva, at the concluding sessions of a murder case. He had been immediately rushed to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital.

A State Counsel is reported to have called the House Officer at the Hospital to inquire after the condition of the lawyer.

The doctor is alleged to have refused to divulge any information on the telephone. Judge de Silva himself had then telephoned the House Officer, police said. He had duly identified himself and asked for information on the health of the lawyer. But his request too had been turned down, apparently on the basis that the doctors were uncertain about the identity of the caller and were not obliged to give medical information to outsiders.

Thereafter Judge de Silva had directed SP (Galle) H.M.D. Herath to produce the House Officer in question before him.

Police had got in touch with Dr. Piyasena Samarakoon,. the Director of the hospital.

Later SP Herath and HQI Galle Police, R.M.I. Jayasinghe, had visited the hospital and taken the doctor to Courts.

The House Officer was produced by the Police before the Judge in his chambers and was severely warned.

That gave cause for the doctors to boycot public clinics for a day.

Asia Siyaka returns

By Ayesha R. Rafiq

Tea brokers Asia Siyaka, whose trading licence was temporarily cancelled more than a week ago by the Court of Appeal, has now, under amended licensing regulations, obtained its licence for 1998 and 1999.

The broker whose licence was temporarily cancelled on November 19, was granted a fresh licence under an amendment by gazette to the Licensing of Produce Brokers Act of 1979.

The crisis started early this year when Forbes and Walker Tea Brokers (F&W) took Asia Siyaka to court on a technical point in the Broking Licence Act.

The Act states that broking licences for a calendar year should be issued or renewed by September the previous year. However, Asia Siyaka's application in February this year for a licence for 1998, was granted by the Tea Board, after it had obtained legal advice from the AG's Department.

But F&W argued that the Tea Board and the AG's Department had misinterpreted the licensing regulations. They argued that Asia Siyaka could not begin operations during the year in which the licence was applied for, but should apply for a licence for 1999 in September 1998.

The argument was upheld by the Appeal Court Judge Z. Gunawardene, resulting in the suspension of Asia Siyaka, which holds about 16% of the trade.

The company was however granted temporary relief by the Supreme Court enabling it to participate in last week's tea auction.

The gazetted amendment states that hereafter, any individual, firm or company entering the business of produce brokering for the first time, may submit applications for a licence at any time of the year.

The matter is now pending in the Supreme Court.

UNP ready to name peacemakers

By Nilika de Silva

The UNP will be putting forward its nominees to work with business community in moves to achieve a peaceful solution to the ethnic problem.

The co-ordinating chairman of the business community initiative group Lalith Kotelawela said he had received a letter from the Opposition stating that the party would appoint its nominees to liaise with the business delegation soon.

"I received a letter on Friday from the UNP agreeing to nominate their members. Yet there are a few minor points they wish to clarify first," Mr. Kotelawela said.

The co-ordinating chairman emphasised the fact that they wished to be a corridor for the two main parties to come together. "We are only facilitators," he said

The Peoples Alliance has already fielded its nominees Ministers G.L. Peiris and M.H.M. Ashraff, Southern Province Governor Neville Kanakaratne and Western Province Governor K. Vignarajah.

Impersonation probe: judge sent on compulsory leave

Negombo District Court Judge Palitha Bandaranayake has been sent on compulsory leave pending investigation into alleged impersonation of a High Court Judge.

It was also alleged the district judge had been abusive to police personnel, when he was stopped at a police checkpoint at Kirulapone.

Negombo High Court Judge Gamini Abeyratne, who was allegedly impersonated, had complained to the Judicial Services Commission that the incident had brought disrepute to him. The JSC is conducting investigations.

The incident occurred more than a month ago when Judge Bandaranayake was reportedly stopped at a police checkpoint. The judge had allegedly shown his resentment when the police wanted to search the vehicle. It is said a 19-year-old Tamil youth from Vavuniya was in the vehicle at the time.

When the police officer asked for the judge's identity card, Mr. Bandaranaike had allegedly said he would prove to the policeman who he was by summoning him to courts.

The judge summoned the police officer to the courts, two days later and allegedly asked him whether he knew who he was.

The police officer and five witnesses in an affidavit had said that the person in the vehicle, was not the High Court Judge of Negombo.

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