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August 19, 2017 [GMT]
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SC dismisses petition against ITAK; says advocating federal form of govt. isn’t separatism
[Saturday 2017-08-12 15:00]

The Supreme Court (SC) declared this week that advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism and that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) does not, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka as envisaged under Article 157A of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court (SC) declared this week that advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism and that the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) does not, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka as envisaged under Article 157A of the Constitution.


Dismissing the petition filed by H. K. Don Chandrasoma of Kelaniya who sought a Court order declaring that ITAK is a political party which has as one of its “aims” and “objects” the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka, the three-member SC bench said, “ITAK is advocating for a federalist form of government by devolving more powers to the provinces within the framework of a unitary state,” adding that “advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered advocating separatism.” The bench comprised Chief Justice Prasanth Dep, Justice Uppal Abeyrathne and Justice Anil Goonertane.

In the landmark ruling, the SC said the labelling of states as unitary and federal sometimes may be misleading. “There could be unitary states with features or attributes of a federal state and vice versa. In a unitary state, if more powers are given to the units it could be considered a federal state. Similarly, in a federal state, if the Center is powerful and the power is concentrated in the Centre it could be considered a unitary state. Therefore, sharing of sovereignty, devolution of power and decentralisation will pave the way for a federal form of government within a unitary state,” the Court said. It cited the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as an instance where power was devolved to the provinces.

The case was filed on April 2016 and decided on 4 August, 2017.The Petitioner sought a declaration under and in terms of Article 157A (4) of the Constitution (as amended by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution) of Sri Lanka. He cited ITAK Secretary Mawai S. Senathirajah, Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya and the Attorney General as respondents.

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war crimes probe: Constitution won’t permit foreign judges, says FM Marapana
[Saturday 2017-08-19 18:00]

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, PC, yesterday said foreign judges couldn’t be accommodated in domestic judicial mechanisms in accordance with the Constitution. He said so when The Island asked him whether he, would as a former Attorney General, in addition to his newest responsibilities look into the Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the ruling UNP-SLFP coalition at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Oct. 2015 meant to establish judicial mechanism to address accountability issues.

Prez, PM or Justice Minister can’t intervene in judicial matters
[Saturday 2017-08-19 18:00]

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, responding to remarks made by Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera, said today that neither the President, Prime Minister nor the Justice Minister had powers to intervene in judicial matters. He said the possibility of appointing a special court had been discussed in the Cabinet and added that the Attorney General had also given written advice to the government on the matter. “We are acting on the advice of the Attorney General,” the minister said.

Sri Lanka names first Tamil navy chief since 1970
[Saturday 2017-08-19 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday appointed an officer from the Tamil minority to head the navy for the first time since a separatist war erupted 45 years ago. Rear Admiral Travis Sinniah is the first Tamil to head a wing of the military since 1970, even though Tamils make up around 15 percent of Sri Lanka’s population.

Govt. won't sign FTAs harmful to local industrialists
[Saturday 2017-08-19 18:00]

President Sirisena yesterday assured that the government would not sign any free trade agreement that would harm local industries and entrepreneurs and that he had decided to set up the National Economic Council (NEC) to strengthen the economy by streamlining its management processes. He said its objectives were to increase export income and develop the local industry and that there was a need for a stronger development programme for agriculture.

Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne appointed new Chief of Defence Staff
[Saturday 2017-08-19 18:00]

Former Naval Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne was appointed as the new Chief of Defence Staff today. President Maithripala Sirisena granted him a six-month service extension in his former appointment on Feb 22, 2016.

Police have power to arrest Namal: Court
[Saturday 2017-08-19 18:00]

Colombo Additional Magistrate Chandana Kalansuriya yesterday observed that Police have the power to arrest Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa over a cognisable offence, for allegedly threatening and reprimanding an official attached to the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) on August 15. Filing a facts report in Court, the FCID sought an order to issue notice on Namal Rajapaksa to appear in Court for allegedly threatening and reprimanding FCID Sub Inspector Shantha Lalith who was an investigative officer concerning a misappropriation of Rs.70 million belonging to Krrish Company by Namal Rajapaksa.

Wiggy blasts Thavarajah
[Friday 2017-08-18 18:00]

C.V. Wigneswaran yesterday (17) claimed that in order to safeguard his position in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), Opposition Leader S. Thavarajah was attempting to show that the Council was incapable of functioning. Speaking at yesterday's Council sittings, Wigneswaran said, "The leader of the Opposition, to safeguard his position in the council, had always tried to show that we are incapable."

Eighteen year prison sentence sought for Sri Lankan man convicted of human smuggling
[Friday 2017-08-18 18:00]

Lawyers in Canada are seeking an 18-year prison sentence for a man convicted of human smuggling for his role in the voyage of the MV Sun Sea, the dilapidated cargo ship that made the voyage from Thailand to B.C.'s coast with 492 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard seeking asylum, Canadian media reported. According to CBC News, Kunarobinson Christhurajah was found guilty in May 2017 during a retrial. His first trial ended in a mistrial after a jury couldn't reach a verdict.

Foreign Minister asserts no chance of having foreign judges
[Friday 2017-08-18 18:00]

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana today asserted there is no chance of Sri Lanka having foreign judges in the post war accountability process. Speaking to reporters after assuming duties at the Foreign Ministry, Marapana said that the Constitution is clear there cannot be a foreign judge in a local judicial process. “We have made this clear to the international community and they have accepted that,” he said.

Vice-Admiral Travis Sinniah new Navy Commander Top News
[Friday 2017-08-18 18:00]

President Maithripala Sirisena today appointed the Eastern Naval Commander Rear Admiral Travis Sinniah, as new Navy Commander at the President's Official Residence, the Government Information Department said. “Rear Admiral Travis Sinniah, who has served Sri Lanka Navy with immense loyalty for many decades, took office as the Navy Commander today,” President Maithripala Sirisena tweeted. The Secretary to the President Austin Fernando and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Kapila Waidyaratne also participated at the occasion.

Wijeyadasa to make a special statement on Monday
[Friday 2017-08-18 18:00]

Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who was at the centre of controversy after being accused of violating the collective responsibility of the Cabinet by some of his colleagues, is to make a special statement on Monday, UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim told journalists today.

FM condemns the Barcelona terrorist attack
[Friday 2017-08-18 18:00]

The Ministry of Foreign affairs today condemned suspected terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain which left at least 13 people dead and nearly 100 injured. While posting a Twitter message Ministry Spokesperson Mahishini Colonne extended condolences to those affected on behalf of Sri Lanka. Her Twitter message said, the Government of #SriLanka condemns the terrorist attack in #Barcelona #Spain and extends condolences to those affected. A van ploughed into the people in Barcelona yesterday which left 13 people dead and injured nearly 100.

TNA has had enough, calls for foreign intervention
[Thursday 2017-08-17 17:00]

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) says enough is enough and the international community must now intervene to address the issues faced by the Tamils in the North. TNA leader R. Sampanthan says the Government has begun to divert from its political goals and so it is time the international community stepped in.

Mega corruption cases to be heard by trials-at-Bar
[Thursday 2017-08-17 17:00]

The government has decided to increase the number of High Courts with some of them functioning as trials-at-bar since more than 43 criminal cases against some members of former President Mahinda Rajapaksas family and his regime were stuck at the Attorney General’s Department for nearly two years.

Asgiriya Chapter opposes no faith motion against Wijeyadasa
[Thursday 2017-08-17 17:00]

Asgiriya Chapter of the Siyam Maha Nikaya headed by Most venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratana Thera was opposed to attempts being made to bring a no-faith motion against Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, said General Secretary, of the Chapter Venerable Dr. Medagama Dhammananda Nayake Thera.

India running Mattala airport far worse than H’tota port deal with China-Wimal
[Thursday 2017-08-17 17:00]

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, yesterday alleged that direct Indian involvement in operating Sri Lanka’s second international airport situated at Mattala would be 100 times more dangerous than leasing Hambantota port to China. Sri Lanka entered into 99-year lease agreement with China Merchants Holdings Company Limited on July 29, 2017. Weerawansa said the proposed Mattala deal would place Sri Lanka in an extremely vulnerable situation. The NFF leader was addressing a gathering at Galle Municipal Council, which was the sixth lecture of a series meant to educate the public of the dangers posed by current government policies.

UNF meeting with President postponed for next week
[Thursday 2017-08-17 17:00]

The meeting between United National Front (UNF) party leaders and President Maithripala Sirisena has been postponed for next week. UNF member and Minister of National Coexistence Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganeshan said that crucial current issues were to be discussed at the meeting which was earlier scheduled for today. He now says the meeting has been set for Monday. It was reported over the weekend that the UNF led by the United National Party (UNP) is considering forming its own Government after December 31.

Talks with India for Mattala JV to take off this week
[Thursday 2017-08-17 17:00]

Negotiations on an Indian proposal for a Joint Venture to turn around the loss-making Mattala Airport will take off tomorrow with plans by the Transport Ministry to renegotiate the terms offered in the initial proposal. The ministry will commence negotiations on a ratio for the sharing of equity, starting at 49:51, for India and Sri Lanka respectively to counter the Indian proposal of 70:30, Daily FT learns. Further, the ministry will also request a more detailed proposal for the JV.

Army Chief dismisses allegations No ex-LTTE men involved in crimes in North
[Wednesday 2017-08-16 18:00]

Army Commander Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake dismissed the direct involvement of ex-members of the now vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), in the number of recent violent incidents reported from the Northern Province. Speaking at the media briefing, to announce the seventh annual Colombo Defence Seminar yesterday (15), the Commander made these comments responding to queries put forward by journalists.

‘Aava’ deputy leader arrested
[Wednesday 2017-08-16 18:00]

The Special Task Force (STF) in the early hours of yesterday arrested deputy leader of the violent ‘Aava’ group operating in the north, Ravindran Tharushan at Kokuvil in Jaffna. Investigations have revealed that Tharushan was responsible for attacking and causing injuries to two policemen in Jaffna last week and a number of other attacks carried out by the group. The suspect was handed over to the Jaffna police by the STF. Tharushan, who is a resident of Jaffna, fled to another area to evade arrest.

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