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FR petition challenges release of elephants in state care to those claiming their ownership

By Ifham Nizam – island.lk

A Fundamental Rights Case, filed by the Centre For Environmental Justice (CEJ) and others in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka against the release of elephants under the care of government authorities to those who claim to be their private owners on directives based on a Cabinet decision, was taken up yesterday before Supreme Court judges Buwaneka Aluvihare, Arjuna Obeysekera and Achala Vengappuli.

The Attorney General’s Department stated that they had already filed preliminary objections for amending the original petition by adding the Cabinet of Ministers and said that they were also objecting to some other amendments made.

The Court then directed the Attorney General’s Department to bring their objections to the attention of the petitioners as well and ordered that the facts of the amended petition be confirmed before the same tribunal which had heard the case previously.

The FR case was filed challenging the Cabinet decision taken based on a Joint Cabinet Memorandum by the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, Urban Development and Housing and Economic Policies and Plan Implementation Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation R. M. C. B. Ratnayake instructing the Attorney General to “Release of Elephants under the care of government authorities to those who claim to be their Private Owners”.

The case is set to return to court on 12 October.

The Centre for Environmental Justice, Withanage Don Hemantha Ranjith Sisira Kumara, Edirisinghe Arachchilage Sanjaya Edirisinghe, Panchali Madurangi Panapitiya and Weerakkdoy Appuhamilage Manoja Jayaswini Weerakkody are among the petitioners.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, all Cabinet Ministers and the Attorney General have been cited as respondents.

Senior Counsel Ravindranath Dabare, Nilmal Wickramasinghe and Samadhi Hansani Premasiri appeared for the petitioners.

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