The Court of Appeal judge-bench comprising Justices Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Dhammika Ganepola, issued the directive after deciding to take up for hearing a writ petition filed by the Center for Environmental Justice challenging the circular.
The order is effective till September 01 while the court also issued notices to the five parties, including the Lands Commissioner General and the Director General of Forest Conservation, who have been named as respondents in the petition.
The petitioners allege that the Circular issued on 04/11/2020 took steps to transfer the administration of non-protected forests, known as “other state forests” (OSF), to regional authorities, with a view to releasing them for agriculture and development.
The petitioners point out that due to this the relevant forests have been cleared and given for cultivation and there is a risk of deforestation and a serious environmental complication.
Therefore, the Environmental Justice Center had requested the court to issue an order to invalidate the relevant circular. – ada derana