Sunday Leader ban illegal

[TamilNet, Friday, 30 June 2000, 07:52 GMT]
The Supreme Court ruled Friday that the ban imposed on the English language Weekly, Sunday Leader, and its sister Sinhala language Irida Peramuna, was illegal and ordered the state to pay one hundred thousand rupees as costs to the Petitioner, within eight weeks.

The court ruled that the Competent Authority, Mr.Ariya Rupasinghe, did not have the power to shut down the newspaper as his power was separate did not exist under section 14 of the Emergency Regulations.

It is section 14 of Sri Lanka's Emergency Regulation No.1 of 2000 promulgated under section 5 of the Public Security Ordinance which contains the power to close newspapers. Therefore, Rupasinghe's action's were ruled ultra vires.

The case was heard before the three-member bench comprising Justice Ranjith Weerasinghe, Justice Ranjith Theeraratne and Justice Ameer Ismayil.

The Court ordered that the Inspector General of Police to take immediate steps to ensure the resumption of the publication of the Sunday Leader and Irida Peramuna with immediate effect.

The Supreme Court further ordered the State to pay one hundred thousand rupees as costs to the Petitioner.

The Supreme Court delivered this judgment today on the Fundamental Rights violation plea filed by the Leader Publications (PVT) Limited challenging the banning of their newspapers by Competent Authority effective from May 22 this year.

In the Rights violation plea filed and argued before a three member Bench of the Supreme Court comprised of Justices A.R.B. Amerasinghe, R.N.M.Dheeraratne and Ameer Ismail.

The respondents cited in this case were Mr.Ariya Rubesinghe, Competent Authority, Mr.Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Media and the Advisory Committee of the Competent Authority.

Mr.Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor of the Sunday Leader told newsmen after the Supreme Court order that justice has prevailed.

Mr.Lasantha Wickrematunge further said that he would sue Mr.Ariya Rubesinghe, Competent Authority personally for the damages caused to his newspaper establishment due to the unlawful ban order on his publications.

Justice Dr.A.R.B.Amerasinghe agreeing with Justice R.N.M.Dheeraratne and Justice Ameer Ismail today delivered the judgement in the Sunday Leader fundamental rights violation case.

Excerpts from the judgement are given below:

What is in issue is not the existence of the circumstances warranting the bringing into operation Part 2 of the Public Security Ordinance.

The question is whether the first respondent- the Competent Authority- was by law entitled to make the orders he made, even granting that there was a serious crisis.

I am of the view that the first respondent-Competent Authority- was not entitled to make the orders he did, for he was not empowered by the Regulations to do so within the meaning of Section 6 of the Public Security Ordinance.

There is no Regulation stating who the Competent Authority is for the purpose of Regulation 14.

The Constitution as well as Section 2 (3) (4) (5) (6) of the Public Security Ordinance make it clear in Article 155 that the President's powers with regard to public security are derived from the Parliament and are subject to Parliament's control and scrutiny.

The Courts shall endeavor to ensure that the will of the Parliament are expressed in the Public Security Ordinance will be duly carried out.

For the reasons set out in my judgement-

I declare that the first respondent-Competent Authority had no power or authority to act under Regulation 14.

I further declare that the document dated 22nd May 2000 addressed to the Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd., by the first respondent-Competent Authority is nullity and of no force in law.

I direct the 5th respondent-Inspector General of Police- to restore forthwith the Petitioner the possession of any printing press, computer equipments or premises of which possession may have been taken pursuant to any order issued by the Competent Authority.

I make the order that the State shall pay the Petitioner a sum of Rupees 100,000 as costs within eight weeks of the date of this order.


Related Articles:
01.06.00   Sunday Leader fundamental rights case
22.05.00   Sunday Leader closed down

 

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