A legal lacuna exists with the lapsing of the state of emergency on Tuesday, as the government has failed to print the gazette notification giving the new regulations imposed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) charged yesterday.
This had led to a question of legality over the detention of some 5,000 LTTE suspects and the existence of the High Security Zones. The JVP and the TNA, which agitated for the lifting of the state of emergency, charged that the government had failed to issue the gazette notification of these regulations even by yesterday, and as such the detention of the LTTE suspects and the continuation of the HSZs were illegal.
After the emergency regulations lapsed on August 30, the government announced that it would introduce new regulations under the PTA to continue with the ban on the LTTE and the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO), and to take action against LTTE suspects who surrendered or are in custody.
However, JVP MP Vijitha Herath said the gazette notification had not been released as of yesterday, and therefore there was no validity for holding LTTE suspects in custody.
TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran also argued that these regulations had not been framed, and therefore, the detention of the LTTE suspects and the keeping intact of the HSZs for the last couple of days were unlawful.
“There are more than 5,000 LTTE suspects. They cannot go ahead with the HSZ in areas such as Sampur. We are yet to see these regulations. I checked with the Government Printing Department. There are no official documents released announcing these regulations,” he said.
Mr. Sumanthiran said his party would consider legal action if these regulations were framed under the PTA.
“First, we have to see what these regulations are. Then, we will go for the next action. If the emergency regulations were relaxed, the government should not try to do what they did under the emergency through a separate legal regime,” he said.
However, former Attorney General Mohan Peiris who drafted these regulations on behalf of the government countered their arguments saying the regulations were in force from the time they were announced by the government. Mr. Peiris retired on August 30 on which day the emergency regulations were lifted.
“There could have been a delay in the printing of these regulations. It does not mean that they are not in force,” Mr. Peiris said.
The gazette notification has not been published as such holding LTTE suspects in custody not valid in law
These regulations have not been framed as such detention of suspected LTTE cadres illegal
Regulations are in force from the time they have been announced