WNPS Legal Subcommittee is undertaking the following cases at present: Circular 2-2001 Case, Sinharaja (Gin-Nilwala Project), X-Press Pearl Case, Elephant Policy Case, Wilpattu Road Case, Galgamuwa Tusker Case, Sand Mining Case, Dahaiyagala Electric Fence Case, Revatha Tusker Case and Pallekanda church case.
See below for a brief overview of some of the main cases:
Elephant Policy Case – CA/WRIT/20/2020
WNPS took steps to file a case against the impugned decision of the Cabinet of Ministers approving the issuance of 2000 firearms to be distributed to personnel of the Civil Defense Force deployed/living in areas rife with human elephant conflict. This Cabinet decision was purportedly issued to protect the villages against elephants and other wildlife. Accordingly, WNPS filed a writ application against the issue of firearms to the CDF on the basis of the National Elephant Conservation Policy of 2006. The Case is currently at the Argument (Oral submissions) stage.
Galgamuwa Tusker Case – B/1052/2017
The Case relates to the killing of Dala Puttuwa of Galgamuwa in November 2017. The CID has been instructed to conduct DNA tests with ‘Genetech Institute’. CID has not yet submitted the full investigation report to the Attorney General to file indictment/charges in court. The Case is currently pending for Attorney General’s advice.
Revatha Tusker Case – B/287/21
WNPS appeared as an intervening party, with the help of Counsel Mr. Anura Maddegoda, against the killing of Revatha the tusker.
The Magistrate instructed the Attorney General to direct the police to carry out a full investigation into the incident and submit a report. Magistrate Court of Kekirawa ordered the suspect to appear in court on the next court date.
X-Press Pearl Case
WNPS filed an application with the Human Rights Commission seeking relief for the environmental damage caused. A group of fishermen also filed a complaint at the HRC with WNPS’s assistance, seeking relief for damages caused to their livelihood. WNPS is in the process of preparing documents and gathering information. The strategy is to request the government to formulate policies and SOP to prevent a similar incident in the future. WNPS aims to liaise with the Marine Environment Protection Authority to identify their grievances so that the Petition will include those details before being presented in court.
Circular 02/2021 by Ministry of Lands
A circular was issued from the Ministry of Lands, No. 02/2021 vesting authority on the District and Divisional Secretaries to take into its custody State lands that have not been gazette by the Conservator General of Forests as forest land and as wildlife areas that have not been gazetted by the Conservator.
This appears to have been issued in furtherance of the controversial circular previously issued MWFC/1/2020, which is currently the subject of a several court cases. Conservationists, including WNPS are of the view that this is a major threat to the protection of Other State Forests that currently fall within the purview of the Forest Department. Discussions to file a court action are currently underway.