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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2370

Revoke the ban on women to buy liquor: 11 women file FR petition

Colombo, 18 January, (Asiantribune.com):

Eleven females yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights petition in Supreme Court seeking a declare that Ministry of Finance or the State are not entitled in Law to revoke the Excise Notification dated January 10, 2018 in a manner which directly or indirectly prevents a female from lawfully being employed at a place of production and sale of liquor.

Along with popular Sinhala cine world actress Samanalee Fonseka, Nishanthi Bandaranayaka, M.D.J.B. Fernando, Chandima Ravini Jinadasa, Deepanjali Abewardena, Sabreena Esufuli, Sharanya Sekaram, Randula De Silva ,Menaka Galgamuwa, Sujatha Gamage and Vishaka Perera Thilakarathna, filed the fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court.

It was reported that the women belonging to various religions and races filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition in the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to withdraw the gazette issued lifting the ban on women to work at liquor shops and to purchase liquor.

The Petitioners state that by Excise Notification No.02/2018 dated 10th January 2018, the Minister of Finance 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 the Cabinet of Ministers, Mahinda Samarasinghe has declared that at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers ostensibly held on January 16, 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 in as much as-

(a) Any revocation of the said Excise Notification would be unreasonable.

(b) 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.

(c)Any such measure would deprive the members of the female gender who has attained the requisite age specified by Law from lawfully purchasing liquor which is a legal product that can only be manufactured, distributed and sold with the express regulation and control of the State.

(d) An imposition of a prohibition applicable to members of only one gender would tantamount to an unequal treatment of the members of such gender.

The Petitioners state that the above circumstances gives rise to a reasonable apprehension regarding an imminent infringement of the Petitioners’ right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of their sex guaranteed to them by Article 12(2) of the Constitution.

The petitioners sought a court order declaring that Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera or the ministry secretary have no legal authority to impose restrictions on women working at liquor shops and their right to buy liquor.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Ministry Secretary R.H.S. Samarathunga and Attorney General have been cited as respondents.

This petition had been filed through counsel Thisya Weragoda and Thamali Dinushi Perera.

- Asian Tribune -

Actress  Samanalee Fonseka - One of the eleven females who filed the FR petition
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