house rights case order reserved
Supreme Court raises questions
on police officer’s powers to arrest under Penal Code
By Laila Nasry
The Supreme Court questioning as to whether a police officer has
the power to go anywhere and investigate any offence, reserved the
judgment in the Athurugiriya safehouse case, a fundamental rights
application filed by an Army officer alleging he, together with
four other soldiers, had been arrested and tortured while in custody.
The bench comprised Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Shirani
Bandaranayake and P. Edussuriya.
Counsel Shibly Aziz, who appeared for the 1st respondent, Superintendent
K. Udugampola, told court that his client went to the Millennium
City housing scheme in search of a suspect in another case when
he came across the house with arms and ammunition.
reasonable suspicion that the premises was not a safehouse and was
used for illegal activity, SP Udugampola had proceeded to arrest
the petitioners on the charge of possession of illegal weapons,
Mr. Aziz said.
He said there
was nothing to indicate that it was an army safehouse and claimed
that his client had been accompanied to the location by an army
officer who had not objected to the search of the premises. Mr.
Aziz conceded that there remained some discrepancies and deficiencies
as to how his client came to be at Athurugiriya but pointed out
that his client as a law enforcement officer could not shut his
eyes to what he discovered and thus took immediate action.
The Chief Justice
stated that if the primary purpose of Mr. Udugampola was to search
for Chanuka Ratwatte, a suspect in the Udatalawinna massacre case,
then the question arose as to whether he could effect the arrest
of the Army officers.
that what Mr. Udugampola should have done was to report the matter
to the Athurugiriya police to take necessary action as per the Criminal
Procedure Code. Instead of deploying his officers and surrounding
the place and waiting for the Athurugiriya police to take over,
Mr. Udugampola acted arbitrarily in arresting the petitioners and
taking them to Kandy.
Mr. Aziz said
his client might have over-reacted or over-reached himself in carrying
out his duties and did not act as the Criminal Procedure dictated.
However, as a police officer he had still acted within his jurisdiction.
appearing on behalf of the 2nd and 3rd respondents -- Sub Inspector
of the Kandy Police Division, R.A.C. Dharmaratne and Head quarters
Inspector M.A.E Mahendra -- said that his clients were not involved
in the breach of the petitioner's fundamental rights.
said the only allegation against Sub Inspector Dharmaratne was merely
the fact that he had accompanied SP Udugampola to Athurugiriya and
he was not instrumental in the arrest of the petitioners.
Gunasekara appearing on behalf of the petitioners countered this
argument. Mr. Gunasekera said that even if five police officers
had joined the mission and one police officer takes the lead, all
are equally responsible for the act because they all had the common
brought it to the notice of courts that it was Sub Inspector Dharmaratne
who had signed the false detention order, which kept his clients
in custody and therefore was not merely an onlooker but had acted
said the 3rd respondent, Inspector Mahendran, was liable for the
torture and the degrading treatment brought to bear on the petitioners,
as he was the officer in charge of the police station.
on the allegation of torture, Mr. Gunasekara explained the degrading
treatment meted out to the petitioners while in custody. He said
they had been kept in a nine by six foot cell designed for two people,
with depleted toilet facilities and lack of ventilation with the
additional burden of two drunkards as company who had vomited in
are Army officers. You can't just treat them like dirt. Human beings
must be treated like human beings," Mr. Gunasekera said. Mr.
Dharmawardene took up the position that that particular cell was
the only one available for detention and that his client was merely
the headquarters inspector and repairing of toilets was out of his
a date to the Counsel for the respondent Mr. Shibly Aziz to file
written submissions by August 29 in the Chambers. The Counsel for
the petitioner Mr. S.L. Gunasekera made submission to file a reply
by September 15.
phones in cells: Prisons chief cracks whip
By Hisham Hilaly
Close Circuit TV cameras will soon be installed in prisons, to curb
illegal activities within the prisons, Prisons Chief Rumy Marzook
said. "Some prisoners even use cell phones within the premises
to plan murders and bank robberies and threaten witnesses. Sometimes
when I make surprise visits in the early hours of the morning, I
hear mobile phones ringing," he said.
said he had asked the Interior Minister to equip the prisons with
hi-tech cell phone jamming devices. He said Welikada Prison would
be the first to be equipped with CCTV cameras and hi-tech devices.