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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Sri Lanka: AGs action on behalf of accused police officers challenged

Image: Police blocking a peaceful protest campaign on 02 Nov 2022.

Observing that the Attorney General (AG) is afforded special privileges, President’s Counsel (PC) Saliya Pieris informed Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage yesterday (2) that it is a serious and erroneous precedent for the AG to unilaterally call the private application pertaining to two police officials through a motion and obtain court orders when the AG was not a party to the relevant application.

He informed the court regarding this when a private application – filed by journalist Tharindu Iranga Jayawardana against two police officials, namely Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Nalin Dilruk and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Roshan Dias, for allegedly obstructing a peaceful protest march at the Galle Face Green – was taken up yesterday.

Pieris emphasised that if the case was to be called by motion, the AG should have notified the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s lawyer, which the latter had not done. He claimed that the representative of the AG had made explanations to the court, concealing the fact that such notification was not made to the plaintiff.

He further said that he came to know through the media that the case had been taken up yesterday by way of a motion and that the AG had at that time informed the court that the plaintiff had presented false facts to the court. However, he said that neither the plaintiff nor his lawyer had presented any such false facts, nor had they misled the court.

He also stated that although it was reported through the media that the AG’s Department had referred to Section 88 of the Police Ordinance and Section 97 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in connection with this case, both of the provisions are not relevant to this case.

He also requested that the case never be called up without the plaintiff.

Jayawardana has filed this private application accusing ASP Dilruk and SSP Dias under the Penal Code and the National Thoroughfares Act, No. 40 of 2008 for the illegal obstruction of a protest march.

Although the Police Legal Division had intervened in this case, Pieris stated that the Police Legal Division is not a party to this case. He also went on to say that even though the AG obtained orders by presenting facts unilaterally, he (Pieris) would not do so and that he hopes to present facts and make the relevant requests when the case will be taken up on 8 November.

Around 15 lawyers, including Pieris and Attorneys-at-Law Thanuka Madhava Nandasiri, Manujaya De Silva, Jayantha Dehiattage, and Migara Doss, appeared on behalf of the plaintiff.

TM /BY Buddhika Samaraweera

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