Feb 01, 2018

E-passport status quo remains temporarily

Sri Lanka’s new bio-metric E-passport project’s present status quo will be maintained, temporarily, following an undertaking given by the Attorney General’s Department before the Supreme Court recently.

This project is now under litigation owing to the attempt made by the authorities to award the contract to De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd. (De La Rue Lanka Ltd) through a non-transparent and unsolicited single-source procurement process.

When the fundamental rights case challenging the decision to award the e-Passport Project to the British controlled Company De-La Rue Lanka was taken up for support before the Supreme Court, Deputy Solicitor General Viraj Dayarathna gave an undertaking to maintain the status quo until the next date.

Petitioner, EPIC Lanka (Pvt) Ltd had challenged the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to award the Rs. 1.2 billion worth e-Passport project to De-La Rue Lanka Ltd as a direct contract on the basis that the government has a 40 per cent stake, despite EPIC offering a similar solution for little over Rs. 180 million.

Epic alleged that De La Rue Lanka cannot be considered a Government entity that entitles for preferential treatment.

Counsel for the Petitioners, Harsha Fernando, Attorney at law said that this was the second occasion the case had to be re-fixed and reminded that on the last occasion the Chief Justice had cautioned the Attorney General to ensure that granting of time by Court to get more instructions should not be abused by the Respondents.

The case was re-fixed for February 9 to support the leave-to- proceed-petition.

Mr. Fernando with Chamith Senannayaka, Natashiya Noordeen and Ruven Weerasinghe instructed by Jagath Thalgaswatta appeared for the petitioners.(BS) Viraj Dayarathna, Senior Deputy Solicitor General appeared for the petitioners.

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