Petition fixed for inquiry | Daily News


 

Govt’s decision to re-impose liquor ban on women

Petition fixed for inquiry

Four Fundamental Rights petitions filed by several social activists including popular actress Samanalee Fonseka seeking an interim order to suspend the re-impose of liquor ban on women by the gazette notification dated January 18, 2018 was yesterday fixed for inquiry by the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya and Justice S. Thurairaja fixed the matters for inquiry on February 16 next year.

On a previous occasion, the Supreme Court had granted leave to proceed with these four Fundamental Rights petitions under Article 12(1), 12(2), 14(1)(g) of the Constitution.

The petitioners had also sought a declare that the Finance Ministry or the State are not entitled in Law to revoke the Excise Notification in a manner which prevents women from lawfully being employed at a place of production and sale of liquor.

The petitioners cited former Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera, then Ministry Secretary Dr. R. H. S Samaratunga and the Attorney General as respondents.

The Petitioners state that by Excise Notification No.02/2018 dated 10th January 2018, the Finance Minister has inter alia revised the Excise Notification No. 666 by inter alia repealing paragraphs 5(v) and 11(c) of the said Excise Notification No. 666.

The petitioners said Paragraph 11(c) indicates “Persons to whom Liquor is not to be sold or given – No liquor shall be sold or given….. (c) to a woman within the premises of a tavern”.

The Petitioners state that this prohibition was a draconian measure that was arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable and discriminatory to female citizens of the Republic.

The Petitioners state they were reliably informed that at a media briefing, a member of then Cabinet of Ministers, Mahinda Samarasinghe has declared that at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers ostensibly held on 16th January 2016 the Cabinet of Ministers has purportedly decided to “revoke the recent gazette allowing women to purchase alcohol” which the Petitioners verily believe refers to the said Excise Notification.

The Petitioners state that the above circumstances gives rise to a reasonable apprehension regarding an imminent infringement of the Petitioners’ right to equality and equal protection of the law guaranteed to them by Article 12 (1) of the Constitution.

The petitioners are of the view that any such measure would deprive the members of the female gender who have attained the requisite age specified by Law from being lawfully employed at places of production and sale of liquor.

Counsel Viran Corea with Thisya Weragoda, Iresh Seneviratne and Thamali Dinushi Perera appeared for the petitioners.


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