Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Update)

Occupying Colombo's justice system ridicules Tamil mother fighting to get her lands released

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 09 July 2019, 21:17 GMT]
TNA parliamentarians-cum-lawyers such as President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran have failed politically and legally to challenge the SL Defence Ministry deploying the argument of ‘national security’ as a pretext to seize the lands of Tamil landowners. The SL Court of Appeal (CoA) in Colombo, delivering a recent determination has gone to the extent of claiming that “these are matters in relation to National Security, which need not and should not be discussed and probed openly”. The Sinhala judge, Mahinda Samayawardhena, was also ridiculing the petitioner, 71-year-old Tamil mother of seven Mrs Maheswary Thambirajah by stating that “[p]lanting coconuts cannot be more important than national security.” The 54 acres of lands in question at Aasaip-pi'l'lai-eattam in Ezhuthu-madduvaa'l in Thenmaraadchi Jaffna is the locality where the occupying SL Army's 52 Division Headquarters is situated.

Justice Samayawardhena dismissed the appeal filed by Mr Sumanthiran (CA/Writ/376/2014) on 17th May 2019.

Mrs Maheswary Thambirajah
Mrs Maheswary Thambirajah [Library Photo]
Mrs Thambirajah interviewed by TamilNet on Tuesday said she had been advised by her lawyer to file an appeal again. The aged mother was seeking broader community support to exert pressure on the SL system.

The SL Army had seized the property in January 2012.

Tamil National Alliance MP and President's Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran was challenging the notice issued under Section 2 of the Land Acquisition Act.

SLA 52 Division HQ at Aasaippillai Eattam
SLA 52 Division Headquarters at Aasaip-pi'l'lai-eattam [Photo Courtesy: Google Earth Street View]

SLA 52 Division HQ at Aasaippillai Eattam
[Photo Courtesy: Google Earth Street View]
The SL CoA Judge held the view that such notice was not a decisive exercise of discretion by the SL Minister of Lands, but an investigation which leads to a recommendation. At that stage, an application to quash the “Section 2 Notice by certiorari is premature and not ripe for review.”

Furthermore, the Section 2 Notice is a “general notice to be exhibited and not to be served to the alleged owner or owners of the land,” the Judge of the CoA in Colombo said.

Citing ‘precedence’ in Ranawickrema vs Minister of Agriculture and Lands, the Judge said that the first ‘decisive exercise of discretion’ by the Minister under the Land Acquisition Act affecting the rights of a person was only made at the stage of Section 4(1) of the said Act.

He was saying that a Section 2 Notice was “even not intended to be exhibited in some conspicuous places on or near that land but in some conspicuous places in that area”.

Mrs Thambirajah said a letter from the SL Defence Ministry stating that the land was to be acquired by the SL military, was received already on 24th May 2012. However, the notice of surveying the property (under Section 2) was issued two years later on 23 June 2014.

Mr Sumathiran registered the case on behalf of Thamibrajah family, and the first hearing took place on 12th December 2014. The case was postponed to 02 February 2015.

SL CoA Judge Mahinda Samayawardhena in his judgement stated: “I am not impressed by the argument of the learned President’s Counsel for the petitioners that Section 2 Notice dated 23.06.2014 is a pretext as the Army in or about the 8 January 2014 declared open the Headquarters 52 Division Camp on part of the subject land”.

Commenting on the determination, lawyers in Jaffna blamed TNA politician Mr Sumanthiran and P.Saravanamuthu Solicitor Group for indirect collaboration with the SL State.

“It is a known fact that the SL Judiciary is part and parcel of the genocidal system and Sumanthiran playing within the legal framework of that system should have demonstrated his capacity by challenging the SL Defence Ministry exposing its procedural failures. He should also have used the political space as a leading TNA parliamentarian and made the regime to admit its failure. Furthermore, the repeated use of public purpose to put up military bases under the pretext of national security in private properties must have been effectively challenged,” commented a lawyer who did not wish to be named.

SLA 52 Division HQ at Aasaippillai Eattam
Location of Aasaip-pi'l'lai-eattam [Satellite Image Courtesy: Google Earth]
SLA 52 Division HQ at Aasaippillai Eattam
Location of Aasaip-pi'l'lai-eattam [Satellite Image Courtesy: Google Earth]
SLA 52 Division HQ at Aasaippillai Eattam
Location of Aasaip-pi'l'lai-eattam [Satellite Image Courtesy: Google Earth]



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