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Court delays ruling on Online Safety Act challenge

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The Sri Lankan Supreme Court today indefinitely postponed its decision on whether to hear a fundamental rights petition challenging the Online SafetyAct No. 9 of 2024.

President’s Counsel and Jaffna District Member of Parliament M A Sumanthiran filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court on 14th Feb., challenging the Speaker’s certification of the Online Safety Bill as having been enacted into law.

During the hearing, Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam presented five preliminary objections, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case since the Speaker has already signed the bill into law. 

He further emphasized that the legislature holds the sole authority to pass bills, and the court cannot intervene in that process.

Countering these arguments, Attorney-at-Law Suren Fernando, representing Sumanthiran, asserted that the petition aimed solely at the Speaker’s signing of the Act, which he claimed contravened previous Supreme Court pronouncements on related petitions. 

He emphasized the petitioner’s intention to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

The three-judge bench, comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardene, Shiran Gunaratne, and Achala Vengappuli, decided to postpone their decision on hearing the petition indefinitely. 

In his Petition, MP Sumanthiran claims that the government was seeking to enact the Bill without fully adhering the Supreme Court Determination, and that he had pointed out that the draft committee stage amendments would not sufficiently rectify the shortcomings, and provided his concerns in writing to the Speaker.

However, the Parliament had voted on the Bill prior to ensuring full compliance with the Determination, according to Sumanthiran.

The Petitioner claims that the Bill could have been passed by simple majority only if all the changes required by the Supreme Court were incorporated. If these were not incorporated, the Bill could only have been enacted if 2/3 of the whole number of MPs voted in favour of the Bill.

MP Sumanthiran states that the Bill was approved only by a simple majority of members present, and that therefore the Bill could not have become law.

Therefore he states that the Speaker, by certifying that the Bill was enacted into law, has violated the public trust and the fundamental rights guaranteed to Sumanthiran and the citizenry.

Sumanthiran also states that according to the Speaker, he had acted in accordance with advise given by the Attorney General, and if so, the Attorney General is also responsible for the violation of fundamental rights occasioned by the purported certification of the Bill.

The Speaker of Parliament and the Attorney General are named as Respondents to the Application.

(News 1st)

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Five killed, 21 injured in accident at ‘Fox Hill SuperCross’ event

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Tragedy struck at the “Fox Hill Super Cross 2024” racing event in Diyatalawa, resulting in the death of five individuals and leaving 21 others injured, according to Police Media Spokesperson DIG Nihal Thalduwa.

The incident occurred when a race car veered off the track and collided with a group of spectators, DIG Thalduwa explained.

The 28th edition of the ‘Fox Hill SuperCross,’ organized by the Sri Lanka Military Academy Diyatalawa with the support of Sri Lanka Automobile Sports (SLAS), commenced in Diyatalawa on Sunday (21).

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Southern province governor Willy Gamage resigns

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The Governor of the Southern Province Willy Gamage has handed over his letter of resignation effective from 02 May, 2024, to the President’s Secretary.

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5 years marked since the Easter Sunday bombings

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Today (April 21) marks 05 years since the brutal Easter Sunday bombings in 2019.

All churches across Sri Lanka will observe 02 minutes of silence at 8:45 am today (21) to remember those lost in the attacks.

Several memorial events centering the St. Anthony’s church in Kochchikade and the St. Sebastian’s church in Katuwapitiya will be held.

Police spokesman DIG Nihal Thalduwa says that security has been beefed up to areas where memorial services are being held.

In 2019, a spate of bombings that took place across the country claimed 273 lives while injuring hundreds.

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