SC rules Tsunami Bill Constitutional

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 May 2005, 10:20 GMT]
The Supreme Court has communicated to the Speaker of the parliament that the Tsunami (Special Provisions) Bill is consistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Mr.W.M.J.Lokkubandara informed the determination of the Supreme Court to the parliament when it met Tuesday morning, legal sources said.

The SC Bench comprised Justices Shiranee Tilakawardene, K.Udalagama, and Saleem Marsoof held inquiry into petitions filed by the Children's Desk of Lawyers for Human Rights and Development and the Citizens' Trust challenging the constitutionality of the Bill which was presented in Parliament on April 5 by the Justice and Judicial reforms Minister.

The petitioners wanted special determination of the Supreme Court citing the Attorney General as respondent, legal sources said.

The Minister tabled the Bill to ensure that children and young persons left without parental care due to the tsunami received alternate care and protection, legal sources said.

The Lawyers for Human Rights and Development in its petition argued that several clauses in Part 11 of the Bill were inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution. It alleged that a clause as it is formulated, may cause grave injustice to members of extended families, who may have provided care and shelter to children whose parents were affected by the tsunami, by exposing them to the risk of being prosecuted and punished for on offence committed by them, legal sources said.

The petition filed by the Citizens' Trust inter alia disputes the issuance of death certificates. It further stated that the period of one month prescribed in Clause 2 of the Bill is too short for presumption of death to arise and may result in living persons being wrongfully declared as dead and thereby deprive them of all their constitutional rights including franchise. However the petition pointed out that, in any event, since more than three months had elapsed after the tsunami, such a provision was now futile, legal sources said.

The Supreme Court, after inquiry, held the Bill is consistent with the Constitution subject to any revision, legal sources said.

 

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