FR petition filed against signing MCC pact

Saturday, 2 November 2019 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S.Selvanayagam

A Fundamental Rights (FR) petition was filed before the Supreme Court yesterday impugning the intended signing of the agreement with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to obtain a $480 million grant.

The Petition was filed by an Attorney-at-Law Dharshana Weraduwage citing the Attorney General, Defence Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Minister of Foreign Affairs Thilak Marapana, and Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera as Respondents. He seeks an Interim Order from the Supreme Court staying the Respondents from entering into one or more of the impugned agreements. He is asking the court to make an Order declaring that one or more of the fundamental rights of all the citizenry of the republic, duly guaranteed by the Constitution by Articles 10, 12 (1), 14(1) (e), 14(1) (g) and 14(1) (h), have been infringed by one or more of the respondents, in violation of the dictates of said Constitution.

He also seeks the court to make further and other Just and Equitable orders that any one or more or all of the agreements are null and void ab initio.

The Petitioner states newspapers have reported that the Cabinet of Ministers has approved the proposal forwarded by the Finance Minister to sign the agreement with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to obtain a $480 million grant.

He states there are serious concerns that the contents of the said agreement are highly prejudicial to the interests of national security, territorial integrity, and or the fundamental rights of the citizenry and the security of the region.

He states he has been following the developments with regard to the said agreement and several other connected agreements for some time and had attempted to seek information pertaining to the said agreements and other connected agreements, which the Government is contemplating signing with the US Government, and or has already signed.

The Petitioner had sent notices under Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016 inter alia to the ministries of the second, fourth and fifth Respondents, specifically seeking information relevant to the agreements described in the scheduled; namely SOFA, ACSA and MCC.

He states the information officer of the Finance Ministry has stated that the Government has not entered into an agreement with the MCC (at that time) and he refrained from providing the rest of the information sought.

The Petitioner impugned that in the event one or more of the Respondents is working towards giving effect to one or more of the agreements, the citizenry of this republic may be deprived of access to salient religious, historical, and archaeological sites located in parts of the areas.

The Petitioner aggrieves that in the event one or more of the Respondents had already given effect to one or more of the agreements, there is the possibility of recognising the professional licences obtained in USA by US citizens

He stresses that unless the Respondents are stayed from entering into and or implementing the said agreements without a broad, transparent and in depth discussion and analysis of the impacts of the said agreements, irreparable damages shall be made to national defence, its territorial integrity, national security, and the immutable sovereign, democratic republican structure of the State.