|Court order and Amare|
An order issued by the Tangalle High Court on Julampitiye Amare in April this year has come under scrutiny by members of the legal fraternity.
While giving due respect to the court, the order issued by the judge in relation to Amare on an attempted murder case in the Middeniya Police Division in Weeraketiya is atrocious and would not help the development of the law.
High Court Judge Chandrasena Rajapaksha on April 23, 2012 has released Amare on previous bail when he had appeared before court after absconding for seven years and ordered him to observe Ata Sil and made to surrender two T56 weapons in his possession in open court.
Judge Rajapaksha on April 23rd has recorded that the suspect has been avoiding court for a long period and it could be argued by any person that he should be remanded until the case is heard.
He has stated that the court had on various occasions been informed about the suspect’s actions and the information has indicated that the suspect behaves like a thug in the area.
“It has also been revealed that the suspect had acted as the leader of the prison riot on June 30, 2002. Therefore placing such a person under remand would be an unwanted hassle for the other inmates as well as the officers,” Judge Rajapaksha has observed.
He has further recorded that the court would not stand to make any gains by remanding the suspect and that the court would be satisfied if he appeared before courts when the case is being heard.
However, the Judge has stated that the suspect is said to have two T56 weapons in his possession that are being used against society and has ordered that the two weapons be handed over in open court at the next date of hearing in May.
The Judge has then stated that the suspect has continuously been engaged in wrongful acts and mostly due to bad thoughts.
“Therefore, it would be good for the entire country if such a person could be directed on the right path,” the Judge has said.
He has added, “This court would order the suspect to observe Ata Sil at the Divulampitiye Sri Punyawardhanarama Temple on every poya of the month (all four poyas in the month). If the suspect avoids observing Ata Sil the court would hold it as contempt of court and punish the suspect.”
The court record on the Judge’s verdict further states that the chief incumbent of the Sri Punyawardhanarama Temple would bear witness to whether the suspect follows the court directive.
Therefore, Amare was ordered by Judge Rajapaksha to hand over the two T56 weapons in open court and observe Ata Sil at the Punyawardhanarama Temple in Divulampitiya in order to control his thoughts and released him on previous bail after he had absconded for seven years.
Records of the Tangalle High Court on March 14, 2012 state that Amare had been avoiding court since July 31, 2005.
Judge Rajapaksha on March 14 has stated, “The police have refrained from arresting the suspect giving various reasons and that those who stood bail for the suspect have also not been arrested.”
The Judge has further stated, “The suspect has been absconding for seven years. The inability to arrest the suspect or his 1, 3 and 4 bailers during the period indicates to court that there is an unseen force in action. The court wants to enforce the law and not to punish anyone.”
The Judge has then issued a warrant on the suspect through the DIG in-charge of the Southerne Range, Tangalle SP, OIC of the Middeniya Police and the OIC of the Weeraketiya Police.
When the case was once again taken up for hearing on March 20, the police had presented the 3rd and 4th persons who had stood bail for Amare before court.
They have informed court that the suspect (Amare) would be presented to court on the next hearing date on March 26th.
On March 26th, the police had presented before court the 1st person to stand bail for Amare.
Judge Rajapaksha has said all those who have stood bail for the suspect have been released on bail and that they have requested for another date to present the suspect before court.
“The court had asked to meet the Tangalle ASP, OIC of the Middeniya Police and the OIC of the Weeraketiya Police to inquire about the case. They met me in my official chamber this morning and said they had to leave on an official duty. They said that they have been informed that the suspect would appear before court after the Sinhala New Year. After considering the details, the court released on bail those who have stood bail and would continue with the warrant issued on the suspect,” the Judge has stated.
Finally on April 23 Amare appeared before court and Judge Rajapaksha released him on previous bail.
Be that as it may, Amare is now the main suspect in the double murder committed in Katuwana and has been identified by witnesses.
Incidentally, the double murder in Katuwana has taken place during the period Amare was ordered by the Tangalle High Court to observe Ata Sil in all four poyas of the month at the Divulampitiye Sri Punawardhanarama Temple.
The April 23 order, according to members of the legal fraternity, would create a bad precedent when dealing with suspected criminal who have been absconding court and warrants.
Constitutional lawyer R. K. W. Gunasekera said the procedures and proceedings in April in the Tangalle High Court regarding Amare is something that is not laid down in the country’s criminal law.
He observed that the release of the suspect on earlier bail was unusual.
“This is what I feel according to my understanding of criminal procedure,” Gunasekera said.
Referring to the reasoning given by the High Court Judge for not remanding the suspect, the senior lawyer said judges are not supposed to go on rumors or stories.
“Judges could only take to account what is said in court. In this instance the judge has taken judicial notice of reports and stories published in the media,” he said.
He further noted that it was surprising that the Attorney General’s Department has agreed to such an order.
Meanwhile, Attorney at Law Upul Jayasuriya said the order made by the High Court Judge Rajapaksha is shocking.
He said that usually it is the Offensive Weapons Act that applies in this kind of a situation where the suspect is in possession of an offensive weapon such as T56 assault rifles. Under the same law the suspect has to be kept in remand until the conclusion of the trial. In any event it is the Court of Appeal that has the jurisdiction to release such suspects on bail.
“During my 37 years of professional life I have never experienced this kind of an order. This order is still ‘law’. It seems that the Attorney General has done nothing to have it vacated by a higher court,” he noted. He observed that when the judicial system is distorted and ridiculed it is Contempt of Court.
“Even a judge can be charged for Contempt of Court,” he added.
He explained that on the other hand all the Magistrates have to now follow this order.
Jayasuriya said that all the criminals who have been avoiding trial and absconding or avoiding arrest warrants have to be sent to temples to observe Sil because the prisoners and the prison guards are not safe with such criminals.
“Who is providing security to the priests and the other laymen who go to temples?” he queried.
“This order has been made in March 2012. If this criminal Julampitiye Amare was remanded by the High Court Judge as required by law, two innocent lives could have been saved. Temple of Justice has been desecrated,” Jayasuriya said.
He said the Judicial Service Commission should call for the record immediately and take disciplinary action against this judge and the Attorney General should move in revision of the order made by him.
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema