The Executive Committee of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) requests the Government to defer further action on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill until the views of all stakehołders including the public are sought and given due consideration.
On 08 April 2021, just fifteen (15) calendar days after the publication of the Bill in the Gazette, the Bill was placed on the Order Paper of Parliament. In terms of the Constitution, a citizen intending to challenge the constitutionality of a Bill has to do so within one week from the Bill being placed in the Order Paper of Parliament.
“The Executive Committee of the BASL is extremely concerned about the limited time given for scrutiny and discussion of this important Bill, as well as the timing of placing the Bill on the Order Paper of Parliament, which was after the suspension of sittings of the Supreme Court, a time when many members of the legal profession are unavailable,” the BASL said in a statement.
“Furthermore, the period of one (1) week within which such a Bill could be challenged before the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality, included not only the weekend but also three public holidays. Thus, the members of the public have been deprived of a meaningful opportunity to scrutinize the Bill and to discuss its merits.”
The Bar Association has also decided to challenge the Bill before the Supreme Court and also to write to the President and the Prime Minister bringing to their attention the concerns of the BASL.
The Executive Committee of the BASL further notes that certain provisions of the Bill infringe on judicial discretion and violate the principle of the equality of parties before the law.