”Tamil National Alliance National List Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran in his petition filed through attorney-at-law Mohan Balendra expressed apprehension that the impugned circular was a means to maliciously and illegally circumvent and compromise the rights and protections granted to persons in and from the northern and eastern provinces mandated by the constitution and the law. ”
A Writ petition was filed before the Court of Appeal against the Circular issued by the Land Commissioner General’s Department titled ‘Regulating the activities regarding management of lands in the northern and eastern provinces’.
Tamil National Alliance National List Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran in his petition filed through attorney-at-law Mohan Balendra expressed apprehension that the impugned circular was a means to maliciously and illegally circumvent and compromise the rights and protections granted to persons in and from the northern and eastern provinces mandated by the constitution and the law.
The petitioner Sumanthiran stated that he owned land located in the districts of Jaffna and Kilinochchi in the northern province and was directly and personally affected by the impugned Circular.
He was seeking an order of mandate in the nature of a writ of certiorari to quash the impugned circular and an interim order restraining the respondents from acting upon the said circular until the hearing and final determination of his petition.
He cited Land Commissioner General R.P.R. Rajapakse, Land and Land Development Ministry Secretary T. Asoka Pieris, Commissioner of Title Settlement L.K. Pemaratne, Northern Provincial Land Commissioner P. Thayananthan, Eastern Provincial Land Commissioner Anura Dharmadasa, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Navy Commander Vice Admiral D.W.A.S. Dissanayake, Air Force Commander Air Marshal H.D. Abeywickrama and the Attorney General as respondents.
In his petition, he stated the land and property rights were governed by statutory provisions and customary laws and influenced by Roman – Dutch law principles.
Thus, any valid changes to legal rights recognized, protected, provided or regulated by the law pertaining to the ownership, use or interest in or over land and immovable property require legislation as provided for and required by the constitution.
The said circular covers a range of issues which are:
a) Temporary suspension of all distribution of new lands, unless lands are distributed for national security and special development projects;
b) Re-location of lands to those who were displaced or who fled from the land;
c) Provision of alternative land for persons who have prior claims in cases of development of the land by an occupier;
d) Alienation of land to those who encroached state lands prior to June 15, 1995;
e) Issuing documentation for lands where original documents were destroyed or damaged;
f) Development of a process, which was headed by local officials and includes the participation of nominees of the security force commander, to address competing land claims;
g) Establishment of special mediation boards;
h) Non-extension of annual permits where payment was not made or renewed annually;
i) Extension of titling programme to the North and East;
and j) Non-inclusion of cases where there was on-going litigation, and where the Divisional Secretary or other officials were parties, in the proposed process for resolving competing claims.
The impugned circular compels private landowners, including the petitioner, to submit an ownership application form, presumably in pursuance of a process set in motion under the Registration of Title Act.
Petitioner maintained the impugned circular was ultra vires the Registration of Title Act and that neither the Land Commissioner General nor the so-called Land Settlement Commissioner General was vested with any power whatsoever under law to decide on ownership. courtesy: Daily Mirror