President’s Counsel Romesh De Silva said on Tuesday that if there was no immediate threat of a suspect fleeing the country or going into hiding, a police officer could not arrest that person. If there is an allegation against any person, all what the police could do, was to conduct an investigation, interview and record [...]


RADA has paid Rs. 169 m with 9 cheques, but not a single house was built


President’s Counsel Romesh De Silva said on Tuesday that if there was no immediate threat of a suspect fleeing the country or going into hiding, a police officer could not arrest that person. If there is an allegation against any person, all what the police could do, was to conduct an investigation, interview and record the statement of the suspect, and thereafter file a case against him.

Tiran Alles leaving court this week

The Police had no right in law to arrest a suspect, unless there was an immediate threat of the suspect fleeing from the country or going into hiding.

The President’s Counsel made these submissions in a fundamental rights petition filed by businessman and Member of Parliament Tiran Alles, alleging that there is an imminent likelihood of his being arrested by the Police, with regard to an ongoing investigation by the Special Investigations Unit at Police Headquarters. Mr. Alles has complained in his petition that, the investigation was politically orchestrated, and is being conducted maliciously, due to Minister Champaka Ranawaka being displeased with him for having caused Western Provincial Councillor Udaya Gammanpila to support former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential election. He said the Police had no evidence at all against him on any alleged wrongdoing, and causing his arrest, which was imminent, would amount to a violation of his fundamental rights.
This case is being heard by a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court – Chief Justice K. Sripavan, Justice Eva Wanasundara and Justice Rohini Marasinghe.

Counsel de Silva said the new Government is taking revenge from its political opponents. As a result there is a risk of his client being arrested.
At the outset of the case Mr. de Silva queried from the Additional Solicitor General whether there was a need to arrest Mr. Alles.

In response the Additional Solicitor General and President’s Counsel Yasantha Kodagoda who represented the Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police and the Director of the Police Special Investigation Unit said that Mr. de Silva’s submission was wrong. He said that, in terms of the law, any person whom a police officer acting in good faith has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or is suspected of having committed or been concerned in committing of a cognisable offence (which he said are serious criminal offences) could be arrested by such police officer without even a warrant issued by a magistrate. The law enables the arrest of not only suspects who are fleeing or absconding.

Mr. Kodagoda submitted that there were two primary objectives of criminal justice. They were the conviction of the guilty and the acquittal of the innocent. For the successful conduct of a criminal investigation, it was necessary to arrest the suspect at a particular point of time, and carry out further investigation while the suspect was in police custody or on remand. Merely questioning the suspect and permitting him to go away, would frustrate the course of criminal justice, and would only lead to the acquittal of the guilty, thus subverting the course of justice.

President’s Counsel Kodagoda said that MP Tiran Alles could have been arrested soon after the SIU recorded his first statement in early April. He said that he pointed out to the Police that he should have been arrested earlier. He agreed that, even now, there is in fact an imminent likelihood of Mr. Alles being arrested. It was lawful to arrest him and it is necessary for the investigation.

Mr. Kodagoda said that, in order to attend to reconstruction and development work in areas affected by natural and man-made disasters, in a coordinated, cost-effective and expeditious manner, by merging the work handled by the Rehabilitation of Persons, Properties and Industries Authority (REPPIA), Taskforce for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFREN) and Taskforce for Relief (TAFOR), the Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA) was established by Presidential Directive dated 28.11.2005, and subsequently gazetted. This was a decision taken by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He said Tiran Alles was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RADA by President Rajapaksa. The other members of the Board of Management were B. Abayagunawardena, Tilak Amunugama, Shanthi Fernando and Saliya Wickremasuriya. RADA functioned during the period 2006 – 2007. One of the tasks of RADA was the Jaya-Lanka Housing Project, to construct new houses throughout Sri Lanka, in areas affected by natural and manmade disasters. On December 30, 2005, the Petitioner along with Saliya Wickremasuriya (who is in remand custody) and Emil Kanthan (who was an LTTE activist) proceeded to Kilinochchi. They met with LTTE cadre named Puuvannan. As a result of that conversation, acting on the advice of Emil Kanthan, they got an organisation named B & K Holding (incorporated as a company on December 23, 2005) of Shanthikumar Gajankumar registered. The Directors of B & K Holdings (Pvt.) Ltd. were Shanthikumar Gajankumar, Shanthikumar Kishokumar & Barkavi Shanthikumar. Gajankumar is a person who was carrying out a small scale garment manufacturing firm named Oomph.
Gajankumar, Counsel Kodagoda said was never involved in the construction of houses. The company did not have the certification of ICTAD – Institute for Construction, Training and Development. The company was awarded the contract for constructing 400 houses in Trincomalee on April 20, 2006. Another company registered was Everest Civil Engineering Services which was not an incorporated company. On February 13, 2006 it was registered as a firm. Karupiah Sashikumar and Kandaswamy Sothirajah were the partners. RADA entered into a contract with the firm on April 20, 2006. It was for the purported construction of 400 houses in Batticaloa, at the rate of Rs. 780,434 per unit.He said not a single house has been constructed by any of these companies. However, RADA has paid these companies a total of Rs. 169 mn. According to investigations conducted so far, nine cheques issued to these companies have been detected. Tiran Alles has personally signed two of them. The value of all nine cheques comes to a total to Rs. 124mn. Subsequently, a sum of Rs. 38.2 million had come back to Tiran Alles. Shanthikumar Gajankumar, a director of these two alleged dummy companies has made a statement to this effect to a magistrate, Counsel Kodagoda added.
The SC directed that a copy of the statement made to the magistrate be produced when the case resumes on June 11.

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