Sept 27, Colombo: The Supreme Court has set October 4 to hear a petition filed by the Association of Self-Employed Traders against the opening of liquor stores during the current lockdown of the country.
The petitioners seek the apex court to issue an order to the government to allow members of the union to engage in business activities if the liquor stores are allowed to open in violation of the quarantine laws.
The petition was taken up before a three-judge bench comprising justices L. T. B. Dehideniya, Shiran Gunaratne and Janak de Silva of the Supreme Court today.
The State Counsel appearing for the respondents stated that he had received the relevant documents in this case only last Friday evening.
Accordingly, the State Counsel requested the court to give him time to seek advice from the respondents as there are many respondents here.
Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva, appearing for the petitioner at the time, stated that about 7000 members of his client union had lost their jobs due to the decision taken by the respondents.
Therefore, Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva requested the court to give an early date for considering the petition.
Accordingly, the Supreme Court directed that the petition be summoned for consideration on October 04 and directed the lawyers of the petitioner to take steps to send notice to the respondents before that date.
The petition was filed by GI Charles, President of the United National Self-Employed Trade Association, PGB Nissanka, Vice President and Krishan Marambage, Secretary.
The Petition names 47 respondents including Director General of Health Services, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Excise.
The petitioners allege that under the quarantine law, the Director General of Health Services, who is the competent authority, issued a notice on the 20th of last month prohibiting the opening of liquor stores.
However, the petitioners point out that steps were taken to open liquor stores island wide on the 19th contrary to the regulations of the Health Authority.
The Director General of Health Services, the Commissioner General of Excise and the Inspector General of Police have stated that they have not allowed to open liquor store.
The petitioners seek a judgment that the fundamental rights of themselves and the people are being violated due to this questionable action of the respondents.
The petitioners have also requested the Supreme Court to issue an order to the respondents to allow the members of their association to engage in business activities if the liquor stores are allowed to remain open.