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Sampur dispute: CJ asks SLGI to file for contempt of court

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Chief Justice K. Sri Pavan yesterday directed Sri Lanka Gateway Industries Ltd. (SLGI) to file for contempt of court if the facts submitted by the latter in the Supreme Court were true. 

When the case filed by SLGI, over the presidential suspension of the lease of land to the company for its industrial zone project in Sampur, was heard in the Supreme Court yesterday, the parties were directed to strictly maintain the status quo as at 20 May 2015.

The SLGI, in its motion filed yesterday, stated that when the matter was taken up on 20 May 2015, consequent to a motion filed on the behalf of the BOI, the court refused the request to have the temporary stay order extended. 

However, the court ordered the parties to maintain the status quo as at 20 May 2015, until the matter was supported on 15 June 2015.

The status quo which prevailed as at 20 May 2015 was that the Gazette Notification marked P23 stood suspended and the respondents were restrained from interfering with the peaceful possession of the petitioner. When the order to maintain the status quo was given, the petitioner was in possession of the entire land.  

Certain print and electronic media, based on interviews given and statements issued by the counsel who appeared for the parties, including Attorney-at-Law Mr. Sumanthiran and parties seeking intervention, and certain politicians, have only reported the refusal of the court to extend the temporary stay order it issued on 15 May 2015. 

These statements did not refer to the court’s firm direction to the parties to maintain the status quo as at 20 May 2015 until the matter was supported on 15 June 2015 and thus such reports have given wrong and misleading information to the general public, especially those who live in Sampur.

As a result of the distorted and misleading reports published in the print and electronic media that were based on the above interviews, about 50 - 75 people, at the instigation of politicians, have now started erecting temporary houses and structures, cutting trees and burning and clearing the land leased out to the petitioners, blatantly violating the order made by court on 20 May 2015. 

Furthermore, two politicians from the Tamil National Alliance and the Tamil National Front were seen on the land encouraging the people to illegally trespass upon it.

P.V.L.C. Perera of the petitioner company then lodged a complaint at the Sampur Police Station regarding the illegal encroachment and breach of peace as a result. 

However, the police refused to record the complaint and thus Perera was compelled to lodge a complaint with the Trincomalee DIG and the complaint was recorded by Chief Inspector Neelarathna.

The Supreme Court, after hearing all parties, made the following orders.

I.    The parties were directed to strictly maintain the status quo as at 20 May 2015;

II.    The Attorney General and the Trincomalee DIG were directed to submit a report to the Supreme Court with regard to the steps taken over the complaint lodged with the Sampur Police by SLGI, on or before 15th June 2015;

III.    The case is to be taken up before the same bench comprising Hon. Chief Justice K. Sri Pavan, Justice Eva Wanasundara and Justice Rohini Marasinghe.

The Hon. Chief Justice was of the view that if the facts set out in the aforesaid motion and the attached affidavit were true, it would amount to contempt and thus directs the Petitioner, SLGI to file necessary papers for contempt of Court.

Mr. Gamini Marapana PC with Uditha Egalahewa PC, Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC, Naveen Marapana and Ranga Dayananda appeared for the Petitioner, SLGI, K. Kang-Easweran appeared for the Intervenient Petitioners, Ronald Perera PC appeared for the BOI and Deputy Solicitor General Arjuna Obeysekara appeared for the Hon. Attorney General.     

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