FR petition against confiscation of property re-fixed for argument

The Supreme Court re-fixed for argument on March 9, 2012, a fundamental rights (FR) petition filed against the Police and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) for confiscation of property and belongings of the petitioner, and non-return of same, even though he has been acquitted of all charges brought against him.

Petitioners Vettivel Jasikaran, Vairamuthu Vettivel and Ekwality Graphics (Private) Ltd. cited Deputy Inspector General TID, Director TID, Officer-in-Charge TID, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Ministry Additional Secretary H.K. Balasuriya, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mahinda Balasuriya, Lalith Weeratunga and the Attorney General (AG) as respondents.

Petitioners are Directors of Ekwality Graphics, publishers of a magazine called “North Eastern Monthly”. Petitioner, together with his fiancée, Malarmadi Vadiwel, was arrested under the Emergency Regulations on March 6, 2008, by the TID, on the orders of the Ministry of Defence. Mr. Jasikaran claims that, after his arrest, his business premises were sealed. He said that during the time of his detention he was subject to assault and harassment by officers of the TID.

Petitioner was indicted on charges that by printing and distributing the North Eastern Monthly, he conspired and instigated to cause racial hatred, and bring disrepute to the State.

The case was heard at the High Court on several occasions, and during the proceedings, there was evidence that the petitioner had been subject to torture while in custody. Petitioner stated that he had filed an FR petition in the Supreme Court

When the case was taken up at the High Court on October 13, 2009, Senior State Counsel prosecuting informed Court that he was willing to withdraw the indictment and obtain instructions from the AG. On October 26, 2009, Counsel for the petitioner sought to withdraw the FR application, indicating the willingness of the AG to withdraw the indictment. Prosecuting Counsel informed Court that since the Editor of the magazine, J.S. Tissainayagam, had been indicted, convicted and sentenced, there was no need to proceed with the indictment of the petitioners.

The petitioner stated that the equipment and property from his business premises were taken on the orders of the Ministry of Defence. Petitioner further stated that, since he had been acquitted by the High Court, the forfeiture of his property was tantamount to imposing punishment on the petitioner.

Saliya Pieris, Counsel for the petitioner, instructed By Ms. Gowry Thavarasa, stated that the fundamental rights of the petitioner had been violated according to the Constitution and requested Court to direct the respondents to return all items confiscated by them.

The Supreme Court re-fixed the case for argument on March 9, 2012.

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