Land Circular: Court fixes hearing for Nov. 9
Nov 2, 2011

As both parties move for time to consider the English translation of the impugned circular circulated in the North and East asking the owners to register details of their land, the Court of Appeal yesterday (1) fixed the matter for mention on November 9.When the matter came up before Justice W.L. Ranjith Silva, Counsel for the petitioner implored to reconsider the impugned circular which requires the possessors to fur nish details of State as well as private land before November 20.

The Writ petition was filed 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 Moahan 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 easter n provinces mandated by the constitution and the law.

The petitioner Sumanthiran stated that he owns land located in the districts of Jaffna and Kilinochchi in the norther n province and was directly and personally affected by the impugned circular.

He was seeking an order of mandate in the nature of Writ of Certiorari to quash the impugned circular and an Interim Order restraining the respondents from acting upon the circular until the hearing and final deter mination 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, Norther n Provincial Land Commissioner P. Thayananthan, Easter n 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.

K.kanag Iswaran PC with Viran Corea, Bhavani Fonseka and Gehan Gunatilleke instructed by Mohan Balendra appeared for the petitioner. Deputy Solicitors General Ms. Murudu Fer nando and Arujuna Obersekera with Senior State Counsel Anushiya Samaranayake appeared for the Attor ney General. The petitioner 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 recognised, protected, provided or regulated by law pertaining to the ownership, use or interest in or over land and immovable property requires legislation as provided for and required by the Constitution.

The impugned Circular compels private landowners, including the petitioner, to submit an ownership application for m, presumably in pursuance of a process set in motion under the Registration of Title Act.

The petitioner maintains the impugned circular was ultra vires the Registration of Title Act and that neither the Land Commissioner General nor the socalled Land Settlement Commissioner General was vested with any power whatsoever under law to decide on ownership.

He entertained concer ns that the established laws, jurisprudence and traditional customs recognized and given effect to by the law of the land were not contravened or under mined in a manner that was illegal, arbitrary and irregular and that it does not infringe, negate or erode the rights of the people as owners and/or occupiers and/or stakeholders in respect of the lands within the norther n and easter n provinces.

Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran filed this petition through his Attor ney-at-law, Mohan Balendra seeking an interim order restraining certain respondents including the Land Commissioner General from acting upon the Land Circular No. 2011/04.

The new circular exclusively deals with land in the norther n and eastern provinces.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka