Working girl charges female cops with sexual harassment

A fundamental rights case filed by an accounts assistant employed in a mercantile establishment against the sexual harassment she underwent at the hands of police personnel was postponed by the Supreme Court for January 13.

The petitioner Nilakshini Fonseka, a resident of Borelesgamuwa cited Wellawatta acting OIC Banduthilaka, OIC Wellawatta, the IGP, the Attorney General, Edirimunidevelage Dharmasiri, Police Constable Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Mahroof, WPC D. Subashini Deshika Abeywardena, security matron Ranasinghe Arachige Jayalath, all of Wellawatta police station as respondents.

The petitioner said that on August 28, 2008 she had left home for work and found that she had forgotten her purse which contained her National Identity Card. She had then informed a friend of hers to send her purse through another friend and that she would collect it at a place in Wellawatta.

She stated that after she had collected the purse she had boarded the bus to travel to her work place. The petitioner said that when she was in the bus the 1st respondent entered the bus and asked to see her NIC which she produced. He then inquired from her why she being a resident of Boralesgamuwa was boarding a bus from Wellawatta. The petitioner then explained to him what had taken place and the reason for her journey from Wellawatta.

The 1st respondent was not satisfied with her explanation and ordered her to accompany him to the Wellawatta Police Station. She said that while they were walking towards the station they met the 5th respondent Mahroof who joined them.

The petitioner said that at the station the 1st respondent and the 5th respondent used abusive language on her for about an hour. She said that then she was then handed over to the 7th respondent WPC Deshika Abeywardena. The petitioner was taken to a room and was asked to remove her clothes. She said that after some time the WPC was joined by the security matron and both of them started to feel her body touching her in unwanted places and in an unusual manner which was highly embarrassing. She said that she underwent the ordeal for about half an hour and she felt ashamed.

The petitioner was released after about two hours with no charges. She said that the treatment she received at the station violated her fundamental rights under the Constitution.

The 5th respondent Mahroof was present in Court and informed Court that he was sent on vacation of post and did not reside at the address given in the petition and therefore came to know about the case very recently and so moved for time to file objections.

Chief Justice Asoka de Silva with Justices J. Balapatabendi and I. Imam granted four weeks time to file objections.

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