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No action taken against suspects of Yala incident: Environmentalists

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Environmentalists have alleged that no legal action has been taken against the people who are accused of causing distress to the animals at the Yala National Park by entering zone number two on October 22 in 35 jeeps.

It was reported that Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Minister Mahinda Amaraweera’s son Pasan is also among the accused.

Meanwhile, Manoj Vidyaratne, the caretaker of Yala National Park, said five vehicles entered zone number two in the morning along with three trackers.

“Another 35 jeeps arrived in the evening and they were given separate permits. We do not have 35 guides for 35 vehicles. Therefore, five vehicles were given to one guide. The people who came in these jeeps have taken other routes inside the park. Seven people from among the visitors have evaded the guides and have gone on their own way and driven vehicles in a way that harasses the animals.”

“It was the off-road team called “Iron Man” that came to Yala. They are residents of different parts of the country. We cannot turn down any park visitors. However, the issue is that the people went inside and caused destruction. Warrants will be issued to the owners of the seven vehicles through the Department of Motor Traffic,” he said.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media, “Iron Man” organization’s owner Sam Chandrasoma said that he was also in the Yala National Park on the day of this incident but neither he nor his organization had anything to do with it.

He said that the company’s stickers are requested for the vehicles that have obtained services from his company, and that he cannot make a definite statement whether there were vehicles with those stickers inside the park.

Meanwhile, internal sources of the Wildlife Conservation Department told ‘Sri Lanka Mirror’ that a powerful Cabinet Minister has informed the Director General of Wildlife Conservation to allow these jeeps to enter the National Park. The people who arrived in these jeeps have behaved in a way that causes distress to the animals.

It was reported that the authorities of the Wildlife Conservation Department had also learnt about this incident through social media a day after the incident.

It has been revealed that a group of members of the Wellawaya Motor Vehicle Association and the Nikaweratiya Poultry Farm Owners Association were among the perpetrators.

Wildlife Conservation Director General Chandana Suriyabandara said, “A group has gone inside the park and caused destruction. I informed the officials to file a case. These vehicles have been formally entered into the park but the issue is about their behavior inside the park. They have not entered the park by force.”

Mr. Nayanaka Ranwella, an environmentalist commenting on the incident, said that these perpetrators can be imprisoned for 7 years and imposed a fine of Rs.200,000 each.

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SLPP MP temporarily ordained as monk

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SLPP Kandy District MP – Gunatileke Rajapaksa has been temporarily ordained as a Buddhist monk at the historical Isipathanarama Temple in India.

He is now known as Ven. Harispathuwe Dhammarathana Thera.
His son – Sandakelum Rajapaksa, who is an engineer by profession, has also been ordained as Ven. Ampare Dhammaloka Thera.

The MP had reportedly decided to enter into the religious order after the recent death of his wife. He too, was recently hospitalised after falling ill.

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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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English considered for legal proceedings in selected courts

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English language is to be considered for conducting legal proceedings and maintaining records in certain courts, according to a Cabinet decision.

The Cabinet has noted that particularly in the commerce sphere related to commercial activities are mainly used in the English language and require a considerable cost and time in translating those contents into Sinhala language.

Due to that, an extended period to settle commercial disputes takes place which leads to disadvantage when obtaining entrepreneurs, the cabinet has noted.

This situation also affected the position of Sri Lanka to be in a lower place the Ease of Doing Business ratings which envisage the ability of conducting enterprises in a country.

As a remedy to this, it has been recognized as appropriate to issue an order by the subject Minister of Justice with the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers and in par with the provisions of the statute 24 (4) of the Constitution permitting to use English language in relation to all the activities in recognized courts or legal records and proceedings precisely mentioned thereupon.

Accordingly, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal submitted by the Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms to take necessary actions in this regard.

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