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President returns to SL after India visit

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe returned to the island on Friday night (July 21) after concluding his official two-day visit to India. 

This was his first visit to the neighbouring country after taking office in 2022.

Accompanied by a 17-member delegation, Wickremesinghe departed for New Delhi on Thursday (July 20) at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The visit took place as both countries celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.

During the course of his visit, the Sri Lankan leader engaged in bilateral with his Indian counterpart Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Modi and several other top Indian dignitaries in New Delhi, including billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister Dr. S.Jaishankar on a wide range of matters of mutual interest.

The Indian president told President Wickremesinghe that New Delhi’s prolonged support to Sri Lanka in the past year to tide over the economic challenges is a testament to its long-standing commitment to bilateral relations with the island nation.

President Murmu said that India’s partnership is enduring and beneficial to the common people of the two countries and the larger Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and that India looks forward to continuing and strengthening its developmental partnership with Sri Lanka under the leadership of President Wickremesinghe.

Delivering a joint statement with PM Modi following their bilateral talks, President Wickremesinghe expressed his sincere gratitude to the government and people of India for their continued support during Sri Lanka’s most difficult times in recent history.

Commending the impressive economic, infrastructure, and technological advancements made under PM Modi’s leadership, President Wickremesinghe emphasised that India’s growth would have positive impacts on both, the neighbouring countries and the Indian Ocean region.

Meanwhile, PM Modi appealed to the Sri Lankan leader to implement the 13th Amendment and ensure a life of “dignity and respect” for the island nation’s Tamil population.

He also announced a package of INR 75 crores for various development projects in the northern and eastern part of Sri Lanka.

During President Wickremesinghe’s visit, Sri Lanka and India adopted a vision document for our Economic Partnership. “This vision is to strengthen the maritime, air, energy and people-to-people connectivity between the people of both the countries. The vision is to accelerate mutual cooperation in tourism, power, trade, higher education and skill development. This is the vision – of India’s long-term commitment towards Sri Lanka,” PM Modi said.

To this end, the two sides agreed to work together for the establishment of a multi-product petroleum pipeline from the southern part of India to Sri Lanka, in a bid to ensure an affordable and reliable supply of energy resources to Sri Lanka.

Accordingly, it was also decided to undertake mutually agreed joint exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Sri Lanka’s offshore basins with an aim to develop Sri Lanka’s upstream petroleum sector.

The resumption of passenger ferry services between Nagapattinam in India and Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka and Rameshwaram and Talaimannar, and other mutually agreed places, was alos discussed.

The two leaders agreed to further develop Trincomalee as a national and regional hub of industry, energy and economic activity on the basis of mutual understanding.

In addition, Sri Lanka and India also signed five key Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on (1) animal husbandry and dairying, (2) cooperation in the field of renewable energy, (3) cooperation for economic development projects in Trincomalee District, (4) Unified Payments Interface (UPI) acceptance in Sri Lanka, and (5) energy permit for Sampur Solar Power Project.

The signed agreements were exchanged in the presence of the Indian PM and the Sri Lankan President.

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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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