Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri LR.
GUNAWARDANA, J. ANDGUNASEKERA, J.
S.C. No. 48/98.
S.C. SPL LA No. 478/97.
C.A. (REV) No. 547/97.
M.C. GANGODAWILA No. 1957.
MAY 07, 12, 1999.
State Lands Recovery of Possession Act, No. 7 of 1979 – Amendment No. 29of 1983 – Quit Notice – SS. 3, 4, 5, 5 (2) (a) Amendment No. 58 of 1981s. 5 (4) – Urban Development Authority – Competent Authority – Right or statusto file proceedings – Approval of Minister condition precedent – Omnia preasumunturrite et solemniter esse acta.
Competent Authority includes an officer generally or specially authorisedby a Corporate body.
The appellant was by name and designation appointed the "CompetentAuthority" by the Board of the UDA in whom the land was vested.
He had every right to make an application for the possession of the landand for ejectment of the respondent. The proceedings under the StateLands (Recovery of Possession) Act are required to be initiated by aCompetent Authority.
It must be assumed that the necessary steps were taken including theobtaining of the Minister's approval – in fact, it had been obtained priorto proceedings for ejectment.
K. C. Kamalasabeysan, PC, SG with U. Egalahewa, SC for respondent-appellant.
Mahenthiran for defendant-petitioner-respondent.
Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Appeal*
*1997 3 SLR 417.
Cur. adv. vult.
Wedamulla v. Abeysinghe (Amerasinghe, J.)
May 20, 1999.
The respondent was in occupation of a land that had been acquiredby the State and vested in the Urban Development Authority.
The appellant filed an application in the Magistrate's Court ofGangodawila in the prescribed form set out in the schedule to theState Lands (Recovery of Possession) Act, No. 7 of 1979, for therecovery of the possession and occupation of the land and for theejectment of the respondent. The application was supported by anaffidavit in the prescribed form. The learned Magistrate on 7th May,1979, made order in favour of the appellant and the respondent wasthereafter evicted from the land upon the issue of a writ.
The respondent filed a revision application in the Court of Appealagainst the order of the learned Magistrate on the basis that the landwas not a State land and that he had had undisturbed and uninter-rupted possession of the land in question. When the matter cameup for hearing the learned Judge of the Court of Appeal reversedthe order of the Magistrate on 2 counts, namely, (1) that the Addl.Director- General of the Urban Development Authority had "no statusor right to file proceedings on behalf of the Urban DevelopmentAuthority;" and (2) That the approval of the Minister of Housing was"a condition precedent for the institution of proceedings in Courtdirected at evicting or ejecting any person in possession of propertyvested in the Urban Development Authority".
The appellant obtained leave of the Supreme Court to appealagainst the order of the Court of Appeal. When the matter came upfor hearing on the 2nd of February, 1999, learned counsel requestedthe Court to decide the appeal on the basis of written submissions.Written submissions were filed on 7th May, 1999 and on 12th May,1999.
The State Lands (Recovery of Possession) Act provides that wherea quit notice has been issued to a person in unauthorised possessionor occupation of any State land and such person fails to comply with
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 3 Sri LR.
such notice, any “competent authority" may make an application inwriting in the prescribed form to the Magistrate's Court having juris-diction setting forth the matters referred to in section 5 (1) (a) andpraying for the recovery of such land and for an order of ejectmentof the person in possession or occupation, (see sections 3, 4 -and5 of the State Lands (Recovery of Possession) Act, No. 7 of 1979as amended by Act No. 29 of 1983). "Competent Authority includes"an officer generally or specially authorized by a corporate body, wheresuch land is vested in or owned by or under the control of, suchcorporate body". (Section 18 State Lands (Recovery of Possession)Act as amended by section 5 (h) of Act No. 58 of 1981).
In the matter before me, the appellant was by name and designationappointed the "competent authority" by the Board of the UrbanDevelopment Authority in whom the land in question was vested. Hehad every right, therefore, to make an application for the possessionof the land and for ejectment of the respondent. Admittedly, as thelearned Judge of the Court of Appeal observes, a corporate body hasthen the right to sue and be sued. However, he overlooked the factthat proceedings under the State Lands (Recovery of Possession) Actare required to be initiated by a "competent authority".
With regard to the second ground, it might be assumed that thenecessary steps were taken, including the obtaining of the Minister'sapproval. Ominia praesumuntur rite et solemniter esse acta. In fact,the Minister's approval under section 14 (2) of the State Lands(Recovery of Possession) Act had been obtained prior to proceedingsfor ejectment being taken. The Minister's order is dated the 17th ofJune, 1996.
For the reasons set out in my judgment, I set aside the judgmentof the Court of Appeal and affirm the order of the Magistrate.
GUNAWARDANA, J. – I agree.
GUNASEKERA, J. – I agree.
WEDAMULLA v. ABEYSINGEH