Had the JVP agreed, the case against the sale of 90 per cent shares of the Lanka Marine Services Limited, a wholly owned company of the CPC which was a profit making, debt free and tax paying company, to John Keells Holdings would have been filed by the Marxist Party, well informed sources said.
The petitioner would have been a JVP frontliner, the sources said, adding Vasudeva Nanayakkara whom the Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva called a national politician and a social worker in his landmark judgment delivered on July 21 was contacted only after the JVP rejected the idea.
The Petitioner Nanayakkra has been supported by Nihal Sri Ameresekere who succeeded Dr. P.B. Jayasundera (8th respondent) as Chairman PERC when the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga appointed Jayasundera the Secretary to the Treasury.
The Sunday Island learns the original plan was for M. A. Sumanthiran and Viran Corea to represent the JVP in the case filed against K. N. Choksy, PC, who held the finance portfolio at the time the then UNF administration finalized the agreement with blue chip JKH, and thirty other respondents.
The sources said the JVP had been Ameresekere’s first choice since it had vociferously protested against corrupt transactions highlighted by the watchdog parliamentary committee on public enterprises. They said that in another instance an MP had indicated his willingness to take up another controversial transaction but subsequently quit.
In the SC judgment, the Chief Justice with SC Justices, R. A. N. G. Amaratunga and D. J. de. S. Balapatabendi, agreeing, said the petitioner was actively supported by Ameresekere. "It is clear that the bundles of documents produced in the case wouldn’t have surfaced if not for the probing scrutiny by Ameresekere," he said.
Former COPE Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said the Inland Revenue would now have to take up this issue with JKH.
A senior Inland Revenue Department spokesman said they would consult the Attorney General regarding this. Fielding our queries, Commissioner A.A. Amararatne said they collected a copy of the judgment on Thursday (July 31) from the Supreme Court.
Amararatne said they would study the judgment before seeking the opinion of the Attorney General.
JKH had obtained tax free status for its investment in the LMSL with effect from July 7, 2002, a month before the Cabinet considered the process. But to make it effective, the then government amended the law on October 1, 2002, to include an acquisition of assets of an existing enterprise, in this case the LMSL, to tax free status, the judgment held.