Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Govt. trying to enact Foreign Exchange Bill on the sly – lawyer

Only two days to file action

by Shamindra Ferdinando- 

Attorney-at-law and public litigation activist Nagananda Kodituwakku has told a three-member bench of the Supreme Court on Monday (April 24) that the government made a deliberate attempt to deprive interested parties of an opportunity to challenge Foreign Exchange Bill within stipulated seven days by placing it on Order Paper of Parliament on Friday April 7, 2017.

Kodituwakku pointed out that as April 8,9,10, 13,14,15 and 16 were public holidays, they had to move court only on April 11 or 12.

The bench comprised Justice Eva Wanasundera, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare and Justice Prasanna Jayawardene. Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake have been made respondents

In addition to Kodituwakku, attorney-at-law Dharshana Weraduwage made submission in respect of the Foreign Exchange Bill. Counsel Kanishka Witharana made submissions on behalf of UPFA Colombo District MP Bandula Gunawardena.

They sought the Supreme Court opinion whether the Foreign Exchange Bill or section of it is contrary to the Article 83 of the Constitution hence the requirement for approval at a referendum.

Kodituwakku alleged in court that the Foreign Exchange Bill had been presented in a clandestine way on the Order Paper taking into consideration court vacation during second and third weeks of April, 2017.

The attorney-at-law said that the controversial Foreign Exchange Bill was contrived to be adopted by parliament without being challenged in the Supreme Court. He also briefed the court regarding the danger in abolishing existing regulatory mechanism at the expense of the national economy. Kodituwakku emphasized that regulatory mechanisms couldn’t be done away with in the absence of rule of law.

Kodituwakku warned that Sri Lanka could be a haven for those who had been engaged in money laundering operations. The attorney-at-law cited controversial USD 3mn foreign exchange control case heard before the Colombo High Court involving US citizen Raj Rajaratnam of Sri Lankan origin to justify decision to challenge the Foreign Exchange Bill. Kodituwakku pointed out that the billionaire US hedge fund manager Rajaratnam had been sentenced in Oct 2011 to 11 years in prison, the longest term for insider trading in recent times. Kodituwakku pointed out that the Colombo High Court in May 2015 discharged the then UNP MP and present Finance Minister Karunanayake due to a defect in the indictment therefore it was the responsibility of the Attorney General to file a fresh indictment.

Kodituwakku said that against the backdrop of some members of parliament declaring that they were above the law, the people expected the judiciary to become a symbol of hope.

The SC on Monday directed that written submissions in respect of petitions filed against the Foreign Exchange Bill submitted on the following day. Kodituwakku has stated that the proposed Act would surely make clandestine operations meant to deprive the country of due taxes much easier and hard to thwart.

The decision of the Supreme Court is to be handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya shortly.