The Supreme Court yesterday (May 15th) suspended the gazette notification issued by the President releasing state land to the people in Sampoor.
By this action of suspending the gazette notification issued by President Sirisena, the Supreme Court has effectively blocked the return of lands to the people of sampoor who were displaced from their homelands in 2007.
Through a gazette notification, the President released the land held by the Board of Investment (BOI) leased to Sri Lanka Gateway Industries (SLGI).
The Supreme Court granted interim relief to petitioner SLGI suspending the President’s gazette notification revoking the state grant made to the BOI which was in turn leased to SLGI in Sampoor, Trincomalee for a US$ 4 billion project.
The Bench comprised Justices Rohini Marasinghe, Buwaneka Aluwihare and Upali Abeyratne.
The petitioner alleged that the master plan of the project includes the development of the deep water jetty, bulk commodities terminal with stock filling and blending capabilities, power generation plants, sugar industries, fertiliser industries, transshipping coal and thermal coal, iron are industries, oil and petrochemical industries, car manufacturing/assembling plants and a host of other heavy industries and complementary industries. The said project is estimated, according to the petitioner, to generate more than 5,000 direct employment and 20,000 indirect employment opportunities.
The Petitioner also stated that it had entered in to an investment agreement with the BOI in 2012 which was a landmark investment agreement to invest/facilitate US$4 billion, which is the highest Foreign Direct Investment in Sri Lanka’s history.
The Cabinet of Ministers, having carefully analyzed the project proposal and having apprehended the potential of the project and the opportunities that would be created, approved the aforesaid project proposed by the petitioner to be gazetted as a Strategic Development Project within the meaning of Section 3 of the Strategic Development Projects Act, No 14 of 2008 and thus has now received the approval of the Parliament.
The Petitioner complained to the Supreme Court that the Petitioner is severely affected and prejudiced by the purported order made by the President by cancelling and annulling the special land grant given to the 1st Respondent, BOI, and revoking the order previously made by the President declaring the said area as an industrial zone under Section 22A of the BOI Law.
The petitioner, SLGI also complained that it has incurred considerable amounts of money and has entered into several investment agreements and the said illegal revocation of the State Grant and the declaration under Section 22A of the BOI law would cause irreparable damage and loss not only to the Petitioner but also to the country as no investor would invest in these circumstances.
Therefore, the petitioner states that cancelling and annulling the special land grant given to BOI without giving an hearing to the petitioner who is an affected party is a gross violation of rules of natural justice as well as violation of its right guaranteed under Articles 12 (1) and 14 (1) (g) of the Constitution, especially in the circumstances where the Minister of Investment Promotion under whose purview the BOI falls has objected to the release of the Sampur land and cancellation of the agreement it entered into with the Petitioner.
The Supreme court, having heard the parties, granted interim relief restraining any one and/or more and/or all of the Respondents and their servants, agents, delegates from taking any step to evict the Petitioner from and/or interfering with the peaceful possession of the said land, leased out to the Petitioner by the 1st Respondent, the BOI, until the final determination of this application.
Gamini Marapone PC with Uditha Egalahewa PC, Sanjeewa Jayawardene PC, Navin Marapone and Ranga Dayananda appeared for the Petitioner. Ronald Perera PC appeared for the BOI and Nerin Pulle, Deputy General appeared for the Attorney General.