In a parliamentary session today (21), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa expressed apprehensions about the unusual non-publishing of the written decision regarding the ban on flavored cigarettes. Despite the Court of Appeal’s decision on the petition challenging the ban imposed on the tobacco company for violating the country’s existing laws, the written judgment has not been made public on the Department of Justice’s website.
Premadasa brought attention to the suspicious situation surrounding the case, emphasizing the significance of transparency in legal matters that involve influential entities like the tobacco company. He questioned the Minister of Justice in Parliament regarding the delay in making the decision public and the potential implications of this non-disclosure.
The issue has sparked discussions within the professional community, raising concerns about the transparency and accessibility of court decisions, especially those involving powerful corporations. Critics argue that the lack of public disclosure may hinder accountability and obstruct the public’s right to information.
The case in question involves the National Tobacco and Alcohol Authority’s legal scrutiny of three types of cigarettes – Dunhill Switch, Dunhill Double Capsule, and John Player Gold Fro Cool. These cigarettes faced questioning under special gazette No. 1982/33 dated 09.01.2016. The Authority filed cases in the districts of Matara, Anuradhapura, and Colombo, leading to the ban on the sale of flavored Dunhill cigarettes in those areas.
The tobacco company challenged the decision in the Court of Appeal, which, on 17.11.2023, upheld the lower court’s decision. However, the written judgment has yet to be officially published, raising concerns about the transparency and openness of the legal process.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has urged the Minister of Justice to investigate this matter and ensure the prompt publication of the written decision for the sake of transparency and public trust.