The Fundamental Rights petition filed by award-winning writer Shakthika Sathkumara challenging his arrest and detention over an allegation that he propagated religious hatred through a short story titled “Ardha” (Half) has been fixed for argument by Supreme Court.
On April 1, 2019, Sathkumara was arrested by Polgahawela police for allegedly propagating religious hatred through his literary work over offences under Penal Code and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act.
Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya, Justice Kumuduni Wickremasinghe and Justice Arjuna Obeysekera on Tuesday (26) fixed the petition to be taken up for argument on March 22.
The Supreme Court had granted leave to proceed with this Fundamental Rights petition filed challenging his arbitrary arrest and detention.
On February 15, 2019 Sathkumara wrote a short story titled “Ardha” in a publicly available post on social media on February 15, 2019. It is said to be about a young former monk who has lately left the monastic life and moves into a friend’s boarding house while pursuing a university degree.
On February 25, 2019, a Buddhist organization had lodged a complaint with the Inspector-General of Police regarding the short story. The organization demanded that the publication be withdrawn and Sathkumara be arrested. The organization further alleged that the work was defamatory to Buddhism.
Sathkumara was subsequently discharged from the case filed at the Polgahawela Magistrate’s Court following the Attorney General’s recommendation not to prosecute the suspect any further.
President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris with Counsel Pulasthi Hewamanna appeared for the petitioner. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)/DM