A term 10-months rigorous imprisonment (RI) term imposed on a motorcyclist involved in a fatal accident in Nuwara Eliya 13 years ago, was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Mohandiramge Chandrasiri Gunawardena was convicted in the Nuwara Eliya Magistrate’s Court for riding a motorcycle in a rash and/or negligent manner, and causing the death of Abosally Farook on September 18, 1998, in a busy street in Nuwara Eliya.
Subsequently, his appeal to the Provincial High Court Kandy was dismissed.
He then filed a fundamental rights application to the Supreme Court, where, in a unanimous decision by a three-Judge Bench comprising Justices K. Sripavan, Ms. Chandra Ekanayake and Priyasath Dep, set aside the conviction, sentence of 10-months RI and a fine of Rs. 1,500 imposed by the Magistrate and the judgment of the High Court.
In his submission Dr. Ranjith Fernando, counsel for the accused appellant, said that the victim had suddenly darted across the road, and there was no way that the accused could have avoided the accident. He stated that, after the accident, the accused had parked his motor cycle on the side of the road and come to the assistance of the victim who was on the ground. The accused denied that he rode the motorcycle at an excessive speed or in a rash manner, and that, he could not avert the accident, as the victim suddenly crossed the road.
The judges were of the view that there was a serious infirmity in the prosecution’s case. Although the accident occurred in a busy street, there were no witnesses to testify to the manner in which the motorcycle was ridden and also how exactly this accident occurred. If the accused fled the scene, without coming to the assistance of the victim, and also did not return to the scene, to assist the investigating officer, there could not have been any evidence to establish the identity of the accused.
Justice Priyasath Dep was of the opinion that there was an absence of evidence regarding the manner in which the motorcycle was ridden at the time of the accident, to which the other two Judges agreed.