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SC dismisses FR petition against two ministers

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By T. Farook Thajudeen

The Supreme Court dismissed a Fundamental Rights petition filed against ministers Rishad Bathiudeen and Gamini Jayawickrama Perera under Articles 17 and 126 of the Constitution for infringing on the fundamental rights of the petitioners by resettling civilians in the Wilpattu Forest Reserve.

The three-bench panel of judges comprising Sisira De Arbrew, Nalin Perera and Priyantha Jayawardena dismissed the petition of Rukshan Amal Jayawardena of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society and Shehara De Silva of Environmental Foundation (Guarantee) Ltd. without fixing to leave to proceed with the petition as there were no merits in the petition to proceed further.

The petitioners had cited ministers Rishad Badiudeen and Gamini Jayawickrama Perera and eight others of the Forest Department, Central Environmental Authority, Ministry of Mahaveli Development, the Land Commissioner, District Secretary of Mannar, Divisional Secretary of Musali and the Attorney General as respondents to the petition.

The petitioners had sought to restrain the respondents from proceeding to taking any acts with the view of deforestation or from carrying out any development activity including felling trees, fencing and clearing lands or building constructions or similar activities within the Wilpattu forest corridor in the Mannar District. 

They alleged that the release of forest land under the control of the Forest Department for resettlement purposes was illegal and they sought an order setting aside the decision of the Conservator General of the Forest Department for resettlement purposes,

However, it was observed by the court that the resettlement had taken place according to the law and civilians were resettled on the original lands of the settlers which they had inhabited before the evacuations took place during the 30-year war against the LTTE.

As such it was also observed that the there was no cause for action or merit in the petition of the petitioners and dismissed it in the first instance. 

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