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Is Duty Free Permits Legal ?

The Island: Nagananda Kodituwakku, a lawyer and public interest activist who had previously served as a customs officer, has filed papers in the Supreme Court alleging that the sale of duty free permits by MPs was not only improper but illegal. We must wait and see whether the court will uphold this contention and even if it does not hold with the petitioner, at least offer some obiter dicta on the moral and ethical aspects of this matter. There have been instances when judgments have been nullified with parliament adopting ‘corrective’ legislation sometimes with retrospective effect. We can’t see an adverse judgment on this question being allowed to stand with the consequent loss of a substantial benefit by all MPs. We must of course say in fairness that there are certainly MPs whose conduct has been strictly proper. They have not done anything to unduly profit financially from a benefit conferred to enable them to better perform their parliamentary duties. But there are also a considerable number of others without any such compunction. Kodituwakku says that the Right to Information law that has been recently enacted was of considerable benefit to him to obtain information for the purpose of mounting his legal action.
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