The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday filed a writ petition in the Court of Appeal seeking the issuance of a writ order nullifying the Extraordinary Gazette Notification issued by the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka mandating the conversion of foreign currency received through bank accounts into rupees.
The petition was filed by BASL President Saliya Peiris PC, and Association Deputy President Anura Maddegoda PC.
Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and the Attorney General have been named as respondents.
The petition filed by Attorney-at-Law G.G. Arulpragasam states that the Petitioners’ Association is an organisation that deals with the rights of lawyers, human rights and the rule of law.
Attorneys who are members of the Petitioners' Association have so far received fees from their clients in foreign currency, both inside and outside Sri Lanka. For this, they had the ability to receive foreign currency directly from both the personal resident foreign currency account and the foreign deposit account, as well as through commercial bank accounts.
So far, there has been no need to convert the foreign currency into rupees. The members of the Petitioners' Association have done a great service to the country so far, earning a large amount of foreign exchange.
Foreign currency earned by importers or international traders as well as members of the BASL can be withdrawn directly from Sri Lankan accounts.
Despite this situation, on 28 October, the Governor of the Central Bank issued an Extraordinary Gazette Notification 2251/42 – ‘Repatriation of Export Proceeds in to Sri Lanka Rules No. 5 of 2021’ under the Section 10.1 of the Finance Act.
This Gazette notification made it mandatory to convert foreign currency received into the country through bank accounts into rupees.
It is unlawful to order the foreign currency to be converted into rupees without the consent of the members of their association. It is also against Article 140 of the Constitution.
This is also against the principle of natural justice.
Further, the Governor of the Central Bank and the Monetary Board have taken steps to issue this Gazette notification in violation of the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Act. This is a jungle law.
Therefore, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has requested the court to issue notice to the respondents, issue a writ order nullifying the relevant gazette notification and issue an interim order restraining the execution of the relevant Gazette notification.