Fundamental Rights petition against liquor ban on Sri Lanka women

ECONOMYNEXT – Women activists have filed a Fundamental Rights petition in Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court saying their fundamental rights could be violated if the government revokes the lifting of a ban on women buying liquor and working in bars.

The petitioners are asking the Supreme Court to declare that the Ministry of Finance or the State are not entitled in law to revoke the Excise Notification of January 10, 2018 that lifted the ban in a way which directly or indirectly prevents a female from lawfully being employed at a place of production and sale of liquor.

The petitioners said they were responding to media reports that the Cabinet of ministers had decided to revoke the Finance Ministry notification that had lifted the ban on women buying liquor or working in places where liqour is made or sold.

The petitioners said Excise Notification No. 666 promulgated in terms of the provisions of the Excise Ordnance published in Gazette notification dated 31st December 1979 that had the restrictions on women “was a draconian measure that was arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable and discriminatory to female citizens of the Republic.”

They said the January 2018 Excise Notification resulted in the revocation of an arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory prohibition imposed against female citizens of the Republic.

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 argued.

The petitioners are Nishanthi Bandaranayake, M.D.J.B. Fernando, Samanalee Shanika Fonseka, M.D. Chandima Ravini Jinadasa, Deepanjalie Abeywardana, Attorney-at-law Sabrina Esufally, Sharanya Sekaram, Randhula de Silva, Meneka Galgamuwa, Sujatha Gamage and Visakha Perera Tillekeratne.

They have cited Minister of Finance & Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera, Ministry Secretary R. H. S. Samaratunga and the Attorney General as respondents.
(COLOMBO, January 18, 2018)

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