Supreme Court checkmates President

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Grants interim relief to Sri Lanka Gateway Industries following Sirisena’s revocation order and suspension of Sampur land release

Untitled-1Flashback: The agreement signing between Board of Investment (BOI) and Sri Lanka Gateway Industries (Private) Ltd., in 2012. This is a venture by Singapore registered entity was to be the biggest ever FDI with $ 4 billion investment. It was to develop, operate and manage a special industrial zone for heavy industries, in the Trincomalee District.

The Supreme Court yesterday granted interim relief to Sri Lanka Gateway Industries (SLGI), on its petition calling for the suspension of a presidential gazette notification revoking the state grant made to the Board of Investment (BOI) whose land was in turn leased out to SLGI in Sampur, Trincomalee for a $ 4 billion project. 

The bench comprised Justice Rohini Marasinghe, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare and Justice Upali Abeyratne.  

SLGI alleged that the master plan of the Sampur project included the development of a deep water jetty, a bulk commodities terminal with stock-filling and blending capabilities, power generation plants, sugar industries, fertiliser industries, transhipping coke and thermal coal, iron ore industries, oil and petrochemical industries, car manufacturing/assembling plants and a host of other heavy industries and complementary industries. 

The project is estimated, according to SLGI, to generate more than 5,000 direct employment and 20,000 indirect employment opportunities. SLGI also stated that it had entered into an investment agreement with the BOI in 2012 which was a landmark investment agreement to invest/facilitate $ 4 billion, which is the highest Foreign Direct Investment in Sri Lanka’s history. 

The Cabinet, having carefully analysed the project proposal and apprehended the potential of the project and the opportunities that would be created, approved it to be gazetted as a Strategic Development Project within the meaning of Section 3 and strategic Development Projects Act, No. 14 of 2008.

The SLGI complained to the Supreme Court that it was severely affected and prejudiced by the order, made by President Sirisena, cancelling and annulling the special land grant given to the BOI and revoking the order previously made by the President declaring the areas an industrial zone under Section 22A of the BOI Law. 

SLGI also complained that it had incurred considerable losses and had entered into several investment agreements. It stated that the illegal revocation of the state grant and the declaration under section 22A of the BOI law would cause irreparable damages and losses not only to it but also to the country as no investor would invest under these circumstances. 

SLGI added that cancelling and annulling the special land grant given to the BOI without a hearing was a violation of justice as well as a violation of its guaranteed rights under Articles 12 (1) and 14 (1) (g) of the Constitution, especially in the circumstances where the Minister of Investment Promotion, under whose preview the BOI falls, has objected to the release of the Sampur land and the cancellation of the agreement it entered into with SLGI. 

The Supreme Court granted interim relief restraining any one of the respondents and their servants, agents and delegates from taking any step to evict the petitioner or interfere with the peaceful possession of the land, leased out to SLGI by the BOI, until the final determination of this application. 

Gamini Marapone PC with Uditha Egalahewa PC, Sanjeewa Jayawerdene PC, Navin Marapone and Ranga Dayananda appeared for SLGI. 

Ronald Perera PC appeared for the BOI and Nerin Pulle, Deputy Solicitor General, appeared for the Attorney-General.