Businessman challenges “traffic police tyranny”

By Telles Anandappa

A businessman has moved the Supreme Court and challenged what appears to be traffic police tyranny on roads after his driving licence was retained by the City Traffic. A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Asoka de Silva, Justice I. Imam and Justice R.K.S. Suresh Chandra on Friday directed the Attorney General to instruct the City Traffic to issue a temporary permit to petitioner Ravindra Lasantha Ratnayake.

In his petition, Mr. Ratnayake claimed the police action was unlawful and accused them of resorting to fraudulent methods to confiscate his driving licence. He cited Sergeant Bandara, constable Tennakoon, Motor Traffic ASP Anura Silva, City Traffic officer-in-charge I. Kapilarathna OIC, the Police Chief and the Attorney General as respondents.

Mr. Ratnayake said he was driving along Green Path and stopped at the Horton Place roundabout junction for the red lights. As there was not much traffic at that time, Sergeant Bandara, who was controlling traffic at the junction, signalled him to proceed though the red light was on. But soon, a traffic police car followed him and asked him to stop, he said.

Mr. Ratnayake said he told the policemen that it was Sergeant Bandara who asked him to drive on despite the red lights but the officers did not accept his explanation. They took his driving licence and issued a receipt which was valid for 11 days.

The businessman said he went to the City Traffic office at Mihindu Mawatha after the 11-day period and explained matters to the ASP. He asked the ASP to issue him another temporary permit that would allow him to drive until he got his licence back. But the ASP traffic refused to issue the permit and told him to go to courts if he wished.

The Bench directed the State Counsel to instruct the Police to issue the permit before 12.30 p.m. on Friday. The case will be taken up on July 5.

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