Sri Lanka Bar Association opposition parties to challenge China-backed Colombo Port City bill

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka said it is challenging a law to set up a commission to run Colombo Port City, a China-backed project which is exempt from a series of laws and regulations that applies to the rest of the island.

The law may affect the Unitary State, the sovereignty of the people, fundamental rights and powers of the parliament, the BASL’s executive committee said.

The BASL had appointed a committee to go into the law.

The Executive Committee of BASL said Articles 1,2,3,4,12,14 and 76 of the proposed law may be against the constitution.

A plan to set up an International Commercial Dispute Resolution Centre and Priority Hearings in Legal Proceedings could “lead to an ouster of the jurisdiction Courts, infringe on judicial discretion and violate the principle of equality of parties before the law,” the statement said.

The bill may therefore violate Articles 3,4,12 and 14 of the Constitution and relating to the Unitary Status of the Republic and Sovereignty of the People, and the powers of the parliament.

The BASL said there was limited time to challenge the bill and it was table in parliament over a weekend and a holiday week further constraining the time available for the public to go through it.

Sri Lanka’s opposition United National Party said it is also challenging the bill. Sri Lanka’s Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna had also opposed provisions in the bill saying it escaped the scrutiny of the Attorney General and the powers of parliament. 

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