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Athurugiriya fiasco
SC rules police violated Long Rangers’ rights

by Chitra Weerarathne
The Supreme Court yesterday declared the fundamental rights of five officers of the Sri Lanka Army, who were arrested and detained by Superintendent of Police, Kandy K. Udugampola and four of his subordinates, had been violated when the police raided the Army Safe House at Athurugiriya, on January 2, 2002.

The petitioners are S. H. M. Nilam, P. Ananda Udalagama, H. M. Nissanka Herath, I. Edirisinghe Jayamanne and H. Mohamed Hilmy.

The judgement said they had been subjected to inhuman, arbitrary treatment, illegal arrest and illegal detention by Udugampola and his subordinates. The state was directed to pay each petitioner a sum of rupees seven hundred and fifty thousand (Rs. 750,000) as compensation and costs. The first respondent Udugampola, to pay each petitioner, personally a sum of Rs. 50,000/- as compensation. Each petitioner would be entitled to a sum of rupees eight hundred thousand (Rs. 80,000) as compensation and costs. The amount is to be paid within three months.

Udugampola’s subordinates are R. A. P. Dharma-ratne, Sub-Inspector of Police, Kandy, M. A. E. Mahe-ndra, Head Quarters Inspector Kandy, Ashoka Ratna-weera, S. S. P. Kandy, M. M. M. B. J. Mohottigedera, OIC Katugastota.

The judgement said that the counsel for the petitioners had submitted that as a result of the conduct of Udugampola, and his subordinates, several patriotic intelligence operators had already been murdered. The covert operation that was being conducted by the petitioners, was exposed, and their lives and those of their families were exposed to the greatest of risk. It was therefore submitted that the petitioners, are entitled to very substantial compensation. The predicament of the petitioners, and the deaths of so many intelligence operators, resulting in irreparable damage to national security, was due to the conduct of Udugampola, and he should be personally responsible for what had taken place, counsel for the petitioners had submitted.

The judgement was delivered by Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, with the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justice P. Edussuriya agreeing.

Justice Edussuriya had said, the manner in which Udugampola had acted, without paying any heed to Brigadier Hendawitharna, the Director of Military Inte-lligence and Major Sally, without taking the trouble to ascertain the truth of what they said from their superior, exposing the petitioners to the press and, his subsequent conduct, with utter disregard to the rights of the petitioners, it was apparent that he acted so with some ulterior motive whilst being engaged in this despicable exercise, and his conduct must be condemned in the strongest possible manner.

To put it mildly, it was deplorable Justice P. Edussuriya further said that, in the alternative that is, if he did not act with any ulterior motive then, he has acted like an over enthusiastic blundering schoolboy, and has thereby displayed his incompetence.

The registrar of the court was directed to send a copy of the judgement to the IGP.

S. L. Gunasekera with Manohara de Silva, Dilshan Jayasooriya and Prasanna Gunasena, instructed by D. W. Weeraratne, appeared for the petitioners.

Shibly Aziz PC, appeared for Udugampola. Kolitha Dharmawardene, Upul Jayasuriya appeared for the other respondent police officers. Senior State Counsel, Shavindra Fernando, appeared for the Attorney General.

Courtesy:The Island (30th January 2004)


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