Sri Lanka’s land rights –without judicial power
Posted on February 10th, 2020

Observations by the  MCC Public Opinion Committee

We refer to the well-researched article  by  Shenali Waduge ‘  What happens when state land is privatized and farmers are given title deeds’

1]Why does the MCC require Sri Lanka to weaken the legal profession-

The essence of the astonishing piece of legislation called the  MCC is the conspicuous contravention  of  the  rule of law

We are confident that the Hon President will look into this matter immediately.  We are also confident that most Sri Lankans, including those living abroad, will volunteer to help without remuneration and invest their knowledge in the battle to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the property rights of our country.

We are discussing –1]section 6.8 which undermines the authority of the judiciary

                                   2] Annex 1 –page 31—MCC endorses the law introduced in  1998 by  the Government  over night changing  the land law on the advice of the World Bank which excludes  judicial authority and vests power in the administration.

                                   3]  Annex 1 –34 –Government delegates its authority to a Primary Agent called MCC Sri Lanka for 5 years to administer  the projects after excluding the judicial authority.

An erudite  member of our Judiciary had  given a  warning against  interfering with the independence of the judiciary, amid mounting concern over the new  plans after independence  to overhaul Sri Lanka’s  Judicial authority by donors. Hon Justice Weeramantry in his book Equality and Freedom warns us of this tragic situation in which the judicial authority is being weakened and the established legal profession bent over backwards to please donors.

  His warning is as follows — ‘This is an abandonment of the theory of separation of power. The legislature thus becomes the supreme instrument of State power and , corollary, a large area of traditional court jurisdiction to pronounce on the constitutionality of legislation may move out of the ambit of ordinary Judicial power.  With safeguards, as under the Sri Lanka constitution legislature will not misuse their enormously enhanced powers. Without such safeguards the position can be perilous’

2]Government to cede  control over lands

It mocks our  intelligence to see  news items such as ‘’ Government will  give full control over government land to the recipients, so that they could make use of it as they pleased, after repealing the right to access the judiciary .

The process of privatisation according to the MCC  must take place before the Agreement is passed .  A  company known as  MCC  Sri Lanka  Pvt Ltd  said to be the Primary agent of the Government will administer the process   This  company and any  US employee and contractor who will enter our country   for 5 years shall not be  responsible to the judiciary for the sins of  commissions and omissions, this includes fraud, damages, murder and rape.  . Alarmingly legislation will be introduced to repeal all judicial powers to workout the revolutionary changes to Sri Lanka’s land rights .[ Torrens law and digitalisation ]   

 The pressure which the Sri Lanka government is faced with to accept the gift  has come to appoint of interfering with traditional fair trial principles through specific enactments.  We are sure the Attorney General will not accept this. The legal professionals who have access to court today may not have any access to court if foreign lawyers  are employed.

When all other nations are protecting their land rights and resources relating to land with stringent modern laws specially when entering into electronic systems , we are handing over lands to be used in any manner; that is the right to use , right to fruits and right  to consume .  Even the Romans disallowed such powers over land to individuals they expressed in Latin Jus utendi ,  Jus fruendi  and Jus abutendi  .

3] Do prosperous nations weaken the Judiciary to stabilise land rights

  For example ask the  government of UK or USA to privatise their Crown land with a promise of a gift of 480 Million Dollars repealing the judicial powers; you may be tried for treason. As Shenali points  out no sane democracy will consider  flittering away  our rights and the  rights of the future generations  over land in this manner.  Politicians  who own land in  affluent countries  will know that they cannot even  demolish  buildings,[ even if they  are over 100 years old] nor can they  introduce crops or add fertilizer to the soil  without Government approval.

The affluent countries that lure us with their funds and gifts to privatise lands without any proper planning and economic survey  have never resorted  complete privatization of land.    When  they did they have ensured that  resources are protected for the future generations with stringent  laws to mange  the resources  such as  petroleum  industrial minerals  dolomite, feldspar, ball clay, kaolin, calcite, gemstones, mica, mineral sands, graphite, limestone, phosphate rock, quartz, and silica sand. Sri Lanka has an array of gemstone deposits.

4]MCC dumb  about the resources in the area of focus 10 land registries in 7 districts

Sri Lanka has  all the   above said resources and in addition the Highland Complex in the country is known for its high-grade metamorphic land rich in gemstones. In 2011, Cairn Lanka Ltd., a subsidiary of Cairn India Ltd., discovered potential gas reserve in a well on one of the blocks in the Mannar Basin in Sri Lanka. The Mannar Basin is divided into eight blocks. The combined capacity of the eight blocks is estimated to be more than 1 billion bbl of oil. Around $2 billion/yr is spent on petroleum imports. Experts believe that the discovery of natural gas in the Mannar Basin will persuade the government to start issuing permits for oil and gas exploration in the near future. Recent reports state that Sri Lanka’s gem and jewelry industry is heading towards becoming a global gem trading zone in the coming years. The industry currently is hoping to earn $600 million this year. The amount of gem reserves in the country is likely to ensure that Sri Lanka’s gem market reaches $ 1billion by 2016. The two major graphite producers in the country are Bogala Graphite Lanka plc and Kahatagaha Graphite Lanka Ltd. The combined production capacity of the two companies amounted to about 11,000 t/yr in 2011.

5]Measurement of success after privatization;  evaluate how much of lands had  been sold and mortgaged -The MCC  Annex 111—52  ?   Is this our goal for our  precious lands; repeal all the laws, abolish the traditional institutions and wish that land  should be easily saleable as a watch [ Dicey , The Paradox of Land Law 21 L.Q.R [1905] 221]   The correct  evaluation process after privatization should be  how much of land has been cultivated . We might admit that what the people require is a good and acceptable system of land ownership with  the assumption that land should be readily available for maximum benefit to the people. It is therefore essential that  before privatization there needs to be an appraisal of  land information and the capacity to use the land .  The natural resources of our lands have to be determined and lands with valuable resources should never be privatized  . The  land use planning and project management need to commence immediately  Stronger institutions will be needed for planning and implementing land use at all levels.  

3 Responses to “Sri Lanka’s land rights –without judicial power”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    The Danger is, all the Patriots are in Gota’s camp relaxing thinking he will save the nation from everything…

    No one is there to protest.

    We don’t want to wake up from the deep sleep to a country where the land was grabbed by Multimillion Dollar companies while we were sleeping ignorantly.

    People should act immediately. Everyone should warn the politicians that they will boycott elections and continuing protests to save the Real estate of Mother Lanka for the natives.

  2. aloy Says:

    I do not think US has a consistent policy. All depend on the man in power and how eloquent he can wax and give the impression to Americans that they will have a good time without working hard. Whether Prez Gota has freed himself from the citizenship issue or not is immaterial to us so long as he stands with people. People have elected the lesser devil as they always do. But looking at the way things are happening no one can say the country is being steered on the right path. For instance no sooner than he was elected he appointed a man declared as no good by the SC as his secy. He can slowly give any dead rope for the Prez to swallow. Another of the same calibre who wrote that letter to the envoy in Geneva to put our armed forces on the chopping block kicked the bucket down under recently.

    Tagging all citizens with an electronic ID is a no issue. But what is the hurry in surveying all lands in the country and make an electronic register?. Is this not a preparation of the country for the surrender via MCC?. We have all sorts of other problems like the jobless graduates which Prez himself explained very well.

    Unless Prez make statement on the issue of MCC we can assume that he is being misled by his secretaries and his family men for personal reasons. For a few dollars?.

  3. aloy Says:

    I do not think we have an issue even if the Prez invites Donald Trump to visit our country as they are our biggest economic partner. But that should be on equal terms; not as Master and Slave.

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