When the Supreme Court took up the rights plea of night club dancer Nirosha Wimalaratne alis Dilani on Thursday, her Counsel told court the Kollupitiya Police arrested and remanded the dancer for possessing a cobra with the intention of harassing the night club owner as is evident from the ‘B’ report the police filed seeking to have the club temporarily closed down.
Having heard both parties, a Bench comprising Justices Nimal Gamini Amaratunga, Ms. Chandra Ekanayake and S.I.Imam court decided to fully inquire into the complaints of violation of freedom from cruel inhuman or degrading treatment, right to the equal protection of the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and the right to engage in any lawful occupation.
President’s Counsel Rienzie Arseculeratne who appeared for Dilani said there is no connection between his client Dilani having a cobra in her possession and Mr. Thomas Perera running a restaurant and pub.
He also told court the petitioner has not committed any offence under the Animals Ordinance and the Cruelty to Animals Act or the Dangerous Animals Act by keeping a snake in her possession. She did not cause any harm or cruelty to the snake which she fed and kept as a pet, he pointed out.
The respondent police officers got her admitted to the Colombo National Hospital without a court order saying she has a mental ailment or has consumed some drugs purely for getting her remanded through the Magistrate’s Court, the President’s Counsel argued.
The magistrate refused the application by the Police to remand the petitioner Dilani until September 6, but remanded her only until August 30.
National Hospital Psychiatrist Dr. Neil Fernando has found she is not suffering from any mental ailment nor has she been in the habit of taking drugs, counsel submitted.
Police have acted with malice because the Supreme Court had granted leave to proceed and decided to hear a rights case filed by Mr. Pradeed Dayananda, who also being an employee of the Cleopatra Restaurant had complained against his illegal arrest by the Kollupitiya Police on July 7, Mr. Arseculeratne pointed out.
“On the very day the Kollupitiya Police arrested two employees of the restaurant – Gamini Fonseka and Jagath Pushpakumara – alleging they had assaulted one Salinda Wijeratne and got them remanded till July 9 for the purpose of holding an identification parade,” Counsel said.
When Salinda Wijeratne was absent for the parade the Magistrate dismissed the identification parade and enlarged the suspect on bail observing that the Kollupitiya Police wanted an identification parade to have suspects Fonseka and Pushpakumara remanded, the President’s Counsel submitted.
He also submitted the petitioner was abused in obscene language and subjected to being photographed and videoed at the Kollupitiya Police Station.
The petitioner complained to court that she was arrested by the first, second and third respondent Police officers on August 28 for possessing a snake at the Cleopatra Restaurant and Pub located in the basement of the Liberty Plaza building.
She also stated that she has seen numerous snake charmers with snakes in cane boxes, exhibiting them to entertain the public as a means of livelihood.
She has also seen other animals like monkeys and squirrels reared in captivity, by people. Petitioner Rathnayaka Mudiyanselage Nirosha Wimalaratne alias Dilani cited PC Ruwan, PC Jayasundara and WPC Sunethra all of Kollupitiya Police, Kollupitiya Police OIC Chief Inspctor Mangala Dehideniya, the IGP and the Attorney General as respondents. President’s Counsel Rienzie Arseculeratne, with Wasantha Batagoda and Thegitha Koralage, Namal Karunaratne, Bagya de Silva, Nimeshika Patabendige appeared for the petitioner.
Senior State Counsel Ms. Lakmali Karunanayake, appeared for the respondents. The hearing was fixed for March 28