The Supreme Court refused leave to proceed with the fundamental rights application filed by 159 government teachers challenging the Cabinet of Ministers’ decision to absorb Assistant Directors of Education into the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service (SLEAS). The Bench comprised Justices Shiranee Thilakawardane and Eva Wanasundara. The petition stated that this absorption was outside the applicable minutiae of the SLEAS and that therefore this decision was in violation of the petitioners’ rights to equality, protected by Article 12(1) of the Constitution. At the sessions, Srinath Perera PC, appearing for the petitioners, submitted to Court that the appointments should not be permitted as it violated the rights of the petitioners. Deputy Solicitor General Indika Demuni de Silva, appearing for the State, explained to the Court that applications had been called for to sit for the relevant examination to the service, and that the petitioners could also have sat for the examination. She added that they would have stood a good chance of getting selected as there were 488 vacancies available. The Deputy Solicitor General submitted that the petitioners’ rights had not been infringed upon. Rajeev Amarasuriya, Counsel for the 200 performing Assistant Directors of Education, submitted that his clients had been in service for a long period of time – some as much as 17 years – and that this was a policy measure by the Cabinet, supported by the Ministers of all the Provinces, to redress their genuine grievances. Counsel further submitted that the Constitutional provision empowered the Cabinet of Ministers to make these appointments, and that there were several instances in the past where such absorptions had taken place. Counsel continued that
these officers are highly qualified in their own fields of expertise, and are senior officers from the Sri Lanka Principals Service and the Sri Lanka Teachers’ Service who rendered yeoman service to the State at a time when the SLEAS was suffering from a severe dearth of officers and took on the responsibilities and duties of the said posts, irrespective of personal safety due to the location and the war time situation of the country. It is in view of the long tenure of service, the wealth of qualifications and expertise and experience of these officers and the public investment made in the training and development of these officers that the Cabinet of Ministers and the Public Service Commission, had taken steps to absorb these officers.