Watte Gedara Wijebandara v Conservator General of Forest

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Background[edit]

The petitioner instituted this action after being refused a permit to mine silica quartz in an environmentally sensitive area. He filed this action on the ground that he has been subjected to discriminatory treatment when another applicant (6th respondent) has been granted a license to carry out quarry mining in the same area.

Relevant Laws and Principles[edit]

  • Article 12(1) of the Constitution - Equality before the law and equal protection of the law (Fundamental Right)
  • Article 27(4) of the Constitution - Directive Principles of State Policy - directing the State to protect, preserve and improve the environment.
  • Article 28 - Fundamental duty of every person to protect nature and conserve its riches.
  • National Environment Act No.47 of 1980 [Section 26(1) as amended by Section 9 of the National Environmental (Amendment) Act No.56 of 1988]
  • Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance No.2 of 1937 - Section 2
  • Public Trust Doctrine
  • Principle of Inter generational equity

Outcome of the case[edit]

It was held that the petitioner's right to equality and equal protection of the law has been violated through the arbitrary acts of relevant and responsible authorities. However, the petitioners application for license to carry out quarry mining was held to be rightly refused by the authority and the license issued to the other applicant was held to be invalid due to the absence of a valid environmental license under the National Environment Act.