Non-granting of permanent resident visas to foreigners taken up before SC

by Chitra Weerarathne
The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Sri Lanka of Station Road, Wattala has complained to the Supreme Court, about the non-granting of permanent resident visas to foreigners, by the Ministry of Buddhasasana, to teach religion, to willing Sri Lankans, on a programme organised by the petitioner society.

The respondents are the Secretary to the Ministry, the Additional Secretary, the Controller of Immigration and Emigration and the Attorney General.

The petition had stated that there are no legal grounds on which the first three respondents, or anyone of them, can base their recent decision to refuse, recommend or grant permanent resident visas, for foreign religious workers of the petitioner society and further that the respondents have no coherant policy for the granting of such visas and are thus acting arbitrarily, capriciously, grossly unreasonably and illegally in refusing to accede to the request for sufficient resident visas to enable the petitioner to carry out its national religious programme of teaching willing Sri Lankans, at more than 70 locations, where congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses are in need of spiritual instructions and guidance.

The petitioner had alleged arbitrary treatment and discrimination on grounds of religious faith. The petitioner had requested the court to grant leave to proceed and direct the respondents to grant visas as needed by the petitioner society.

A declaration of fundamental rights violation has also been requested by the petitioner.