The Court of Appeals issued its final judgment in favor of Mr. Appa just before adjourning at the end of 2007 and carefully detailed each element of the case upholding a legitimate expectation. In laying the legal groundwork, the Court found no evidence to support any contention that the Rs. 30,000 should be construed only as a loan and to the contrary found that written communications indicate that the past President, as head of the Ministry, intended the assistance to be an outright grant for the construction of permanent housing. The Court went on to explain that a “legitimate expectation” requires actual reliance on the part of a petitioner. In this regard the Court found that Mr. Appa had clearly relied on the promised assistance by beginning construction on a permanent house and had also relied on his specific right to the money deposited into his personal savings account by the Ministry. Therefore, while the Ministry may decide to change its “self help” policies, the Court held that “by implementing the new scheme the entitlements of the persons who fall under the earlier scheme will not get wiped out.”
The Court found that Mr. Appa had met all the established preconditions for being entitled to the house assistance and noted that because the funds for the housing assistance had already been deposited into personal saving accounts, “therefore the Respondents cannot remit that money to another fund or project.” Based on these findings and initial conclusions the Court held that Mr. Appa “has a vested right in the said sum [Rs. 30,000] deposited in his Account therefore he has a right to withdraw the said some [sic] of money in his Savings Account based on substantive legitimate expectation.” Furthermore the Court held that the Ministry officials as “public bodies performing public functions, using public funds have a public duty to grant permission to withdraw the said sum as the Petitioner has fulfilled the necessary requirement stipulated by the Respondents.” The Court therefore quashed the decision to end implementation of the 2001 “self help” housing scheme and ordered the Ministry to grant permission for Mr. Appa to withdraw the monies deposited in his Bank savings account.
Posted By Adam Nord (Sri Lanka)
Posted Feb 10th, 2008