The Government yesterday withdrew the controversial State Land (Special Provisions) Bill in Parliament, blaming the Opposition for challenging it at the Supreme Court in an effort to prevent passing land benefits to people.
Minister of Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella, informing Parliament of the Government decision to withdraw the Bill, said: “Our intention was to provide land deeds to 2.5 million people who lack such legal proof. The Opposition prevented us from giving this proof and the right to the ordinary people.”
The Government moved the State Land (Special Provisions) Bill on 28 June in Parliament, seeking House approval to grant absolute title to state lands held by citizens who are holders of grants or instruments of disposition, and to provide for matters connected.
However, based on the petitions filed, the Supreme Court has determined the State Lands (Special Provisions) Bill should be included in the Order Paper, only after the President has sought an opinion from the Provincial Councils. With the motion is already printed in the Order Paper by 26 July, violating the provisions of Article 154, the Supreme Court has determined that it will refrain from issuing further determinations on the State Lands (Special Provisions) Bill.
“State Lands (Special Provisions) Bill falls under the authority of the Provincial Councils and is read with Article 123 and falls under the provisions of Article 122 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court determines that Bill will not become a law unless the President has sought an opinion from the Provincial Councils before being included in the Order Paper, as per the provisions of Article 154 G (3). The Supreme Court has also determined that now that the State Lands (Special Provisions) Bill is included in the Order Paper, regardless of the provisions of the Article 154, it will refrain from determining the other legalities,” said Deputy Speaker and the Chair of Committees Ananda Kumarasiri, reading the determination last month. (AH)