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Last updated: 22 September, 2008 - Published 17:20 GMT
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Notice issued to defence secretary
Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
New ER have offered sweeping powers to defence secretary
The Supreme Court (SC) in Sri Lanka has issued notice against senior government leaders for extending powers under Emergency Regulations (ER).

Serving notice to the defence secretary, secretary to the president and to Attorney General, the Chief Justice said it is the duty of the court to determine whether the new regulations are constitutional.

Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva made the remarks granting leave to proceed to a Fundamental Rights petition filed by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA).

In a special gazette notification issued in August, the government has authorised the defence secretary to keep detainees, without charging, for more than six months under ER.

CJ Sarath Silva
CJ says it is the duty of the judiciary to determine whether new ER are constitutional

The new regulations, argued the CPA, has transferred magistrate's power to grant bail to the defence secretary.

The state counsel argued that the new regulations were necessary to defeat terrorism.

Terrorism is experienced not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world, the CJ responded, hence it is necessary for the judiciary to determine the legality of the new regulations.

Tamil registration

The Attorney General (AG), meanwhile informed the court that police will not take any action against those who did not take part in a census.

Sri Lanka's police have started registering thousands of people on Sunday, nearly all ethnic Tamils, who have fled the war-torn north for the capital Colombo.

Police started registering thousands of people on Sunday

Insisting that the measure was not a registration of Tamils, the AG said that the police was only carrying out a census of those arrived from the north in Colombo and the suburbs.

The AG also insisted that the government has no plans to send the Tamils arrived in Colombo back to north.

He made these statement as courts was hearing a petition by Ceylon Workers (CWC) against the registration of Tamils.

Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), a constituent member in the ruling coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has strongly opposed the move saying that the latest police move was in violation of a court order on registering people.

In a petition to the SC, the CPA alleged that police were planning to send 15 Tamil families arrested in Dematagoda to north within 24 hours of the arrest.

AG's representative said the government has not issued any such instruction to the police.

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