Thursday, August 24, 2006

Defence clearance prior to granting relief : SC - Daily Mirror Aug 24th, 2006

When the Fundamental Rights application filed by SonicNet Technologies (Pvt) Ltd against preventing it from operating its Communiq Broadband Network (CBN Sat) transmission, came up before the Supreme Court yesterday (23), Court was of the view that prior to granting any relief, Defence Clearance had to be obtained and fixed the matter to be supported for leave to proceed and for interim relief for September 18.

The Bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices Saleem Marsoof and Andrew Somawansa.

Counsel for the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) informed Court that the President, acting under his powers, had directed to obtain Defence Clearance from a committee appointed for that purpose, prior to granting license.

He moved for time to inform Court of the progress made by the Defence Clearance. Objections are to be filed on or before September 4 and the counter affidavit on or before September 12.

The Supreme Court had earlier made directions for a compromise settlement on the consent of all parties, to expedite the operation of CBN Sat transmission, with safeguards to monitor it.

Observing that the equipment in issue, had been seized and sealed on June 6 this year, by a Magistrate order, provision had been given to Petitioner SonicNet Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, by the Supreme Court, to inspect and service the equipment and also, if necessary, to carry out test transmissions, due to the sophisticated nature of the equipment

Petitioner cited Chief Inspector U.K. Mahindadasa, SP A.R. Vaidyalankara and SI L. Tilak Bandara, Police Commercial Crimes Unit –II, the IGP and the Attorney General (AG) as Respondents.

The Petitioner states that Communiq Broadband Network (CBN) is an associate company situated at No. 83, George R.De Silva Mawatha, Colombo 13.

The Minister had issued a license on the recommendation of the TRC, for it to operate an External Gateway for International Telecommunications (EGO License) valid up to January 31, 2013.

It alleged that, on June 6, the first three Respondents wrongfully, unlawfully and/or without any right, sealed and seized its equipment and prevented it from using its equipment and operating its services.

The Petitioner pleaded that the Respondents claimed that they sealed and seized the premises under a Magistrate order. Petitioner contends that the Magistrate did not order or authorise to do so, in his order and search warrant.

The Petitioner is asking Court to grant compensation of Rs 100 million and an interim order directing the Respondents to remove the seal and seizure of its equipment and not to obstruct it from using the said premises.

Romesh de Silva P.C. with Sugath Caldera, Riad Ameen and Evaj de Silva, instructed by G.G. Arulpragasam, appeared for the Petitioner. Additional Solicitor General Sathya Hettige with Senior State Counsel Sumathi Dharmawardana appeared for the 1st to 5th Respondents and the AG. D.S. Wijesinghe P.C. appeared for the intervenient petitioner the Minister of Mass Media and Information. Palitha Kumarasinghe P.C. appeared for the TRC.

By S.S. Selvanayagam

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