Colombo Port City: Sri Lankan prime minister pet project faces legal hurdles

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s dream project Colombo Port City is facing legal hurdles as several political parties in the island nation moved the Supreme Court, challenging the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Zones Special Commission Bill

Apr 16, 2021
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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s dream project Colombo Port City is facing legal hurdles as several political parties in the island nation moved the Supreme Court, challenging the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Zones Special Commission Bill.

According to a report in Colombopage, at least four opposition parties and several civil society organizations have challenged the port city bill. They alleged the bill is “unconstitutional”.

Sri Lankan Supreme Court on Thursday accepted the petitions and has appointed a five-judge bench for hearing. 

The bill provides a legal framework for setting up of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) within the Colombo Port City and proposes the establishment of a Commission empowered to grant registrations, licenses, authorizations, and other approvals to carry on businesses and other activities in the Special Economic Zone. 

Opponents alleged the bill if passed could turn the zone into a Chinese colony. The bill also grants judicial immunity to members of the proposed commission among several controversial clauses. 

In the petitions, opponents also alleged that the bill compromises the sovereignty of the island nation. Furthermore, the petitioners asked the Supreme Court to rule that the bill must be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and by a referendum if it is to become law.

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