11th February 2001

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State ordered to pay Rs. 50,000 as compensation to tortured student

Unlawful arrest, detention and torture

By Laila Nasry

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the state to pay Rs. 50,000 as compensation and Rs. 5,000 as costs to a 23-year-old student in a fundamental rights application over the alleged subjection to torture and unlawful arrest and detention.

The Bench comprised Justice Mark Fernando, Justices D. P. S. Gunesekera and P. Edussuriya.

The court held the petitioner's fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 11 which stated no person should be subject to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and Articles 13 (1) and 13(2) which guaranteed against unlawful arrest and detention had been violated.

The petitioner Ganeshan Ushananthan of Jaffna, a student of the Textile Training College in Nallur, in his petition said a team of army personnel belonging to 511 brigade arrested him at his residence without giving any reasons and detained him at the brigade army camp for eight days.

While in custody the army personnel severely assaulted him, burnt his hands and genitals with a cigarette and a pipe was inserted into his anus, he said. He also claimed he was beaten with pipes and reapers resulting in his head being injured for which he was treated at the army hospital.

He said he was tortured further with his hands cut by a blade and his head covered by a petrol-aced polythene bag which caused severe burns in his lungs. This resulted in him being forced to admit he was a supporter of the LTTE though he had never been involved in any terrorist activity but was awaiting his final examination results at the time of his arrest.

Thereafter, the petitioner said, he was transported to the Kankesanthurai police station where he was detained for 44 days and was further subjected to severe assault.

He claimed he was forced to place his signature on a document written in Sinhala which he couldn't read nor was it read to him and explained.

On December 29, 1999 he was produced before the Anuradhapura Magistrate who ordered that he be remanded under the Emergency Regulations. He said he was unable to comprehend the proceedings as it was held in Sinhala. He was remanded in Anuradhapura and then transferred to the Remand Prison, Kalutara and subsequently to Galle.

Missing soldiers return

By Ratnapala Gamage

Two soldiers who had gone missing in Jaffna during an LTTE attack in May last year turned up at a northern village yesterday, military sources said.

The soldiers identified as Mahinda Kumara from Mirigama and Premadchandra from Weuda were attached to the 9th Sinha Regiment. They were last sent on duty in the Soranpattu area which was captured by the LTTE.

The two soldiers had reportedly been in hiding in the jungle and entered the village after ascertaining the village had been recaptured by the Army.

The two soldiers are being treated at the Palaly hospital and are due to make a full statement once they fully recover.

Docs playing truant beware!

The Health Ministry has decided to continue surprise raids on hospitals to apprehend doctors playing truant during work hours while thousands of patients are kicking their heels.

Health Minister John Seneviratne has assigned 16 directors of the ministry to carry out raids and submit reports. One of the directors said they were expected to carry out six inspections a month in all hospitals and submit a report on their findings to the minister.

Ginger crisis brews in NUA as party resolves leadership battle

By Nilika de Silva and Faraza Farook

Even before the ink on an agreement that resolved the National Unity Allaince leadership crisis dried, eight MPs of the party have formed a 'ginger group' that threatens to defy the leadership.

The formation of the group, which urged the leadership that it be kept informed of important issues, came as the party leadership called off a delegates conference scheduled for today.

Natinonal List Parliamentarian A. Rizvy Sinna Lebbe told 'The Sunday Times' that NUA MPs with the exception of Ministers Rauf Hakeem, Ferial Ashraff and parliamentarian Marudhur Ghani met in Colombo on Friday and resolved that they would work indpendently. They said they would not seek the party leadership's permission to meet the President or the Prime Minister independently and explain their position.

"While protecting the interests of the Muslims, they will extend their fullest co-operation to the President and the Peoples Allaince," another member said.

He said the group would act as a check to monitor that the party constitution was not violated by any member and the leaders did not misuse their ministerial powers.

The other signatories to the group are W. Thasanayake, Basheer Segu Dawood, Noordeen Mashoor, M.S. Thowfeek, M.B. Mohideen Abdul Cader, A.L.M. Athaullah and U.L.M. Mohideen.

The group in a statement said they should be consulted when area development officers were appointed or development work by the two ministers were undertaken in their areas, especially by Ms. Ashraff's Ministry of Rural Housing and Eastern Development.

One of the main reasons to form this group is to inform the two leaders that they will have to listen to the grievances of the MPs and to apprise them of decisions taken by party leaders, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the delegates conference of the SLMC and NUA scheduled for today has been called off in a bid to avoid further rift in the party, party sources said yesterday.

Minister Ashraff told The Sunday Times the postponement was necessary to calm the grassroots members, who were affected by the crisis in the party. A meeting to be held in Kalmunai was also postponed.

The party last week resolved its leadership crisis with both Mr. Hakeem and Ms. Ashraff agreeing to a formula worked out by leading lawyer Faiz Musthapha.

Accordingly, Mr. Hakeem was appointed by the party High Command SLMC leader while Ms. Ashraff was appointed leader of the NUA, an alliance dominated by the SLMC and include parties such as the Sri Lanka Progressive Front.

Mr. Hakeem by virtue of seniority in Parliament will continue to serve as a Parliamentary Group Leader of the NUA

"This in no way should be interpreted as undermining Ms. Ashraff's authority," Mr. Hakeem said.

Cherishing Thomian spirit

S.Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia has throughout its history emphasized and stressed the crucial importance of building character, moulding lives and the making of men as being central to a holistic education, a distinguished old boy of the school N. Y. Casie Chetty said last week.

Speaking at the special general assembly held to mark the sesquicentenary of the college on February 3, Mr. Casie Chetty said the sterling qualities adumbrated, can verily be considered to form the warp and woof of an exquisite tapestry that they proudly refer to as their Thomian heritage.

"In a day and age when we cynically and despairingly observe all around us, that a decadent and degenerate society has spawned human beings of mediocrity, myopic vision, duplicity , mendacity, venality, warped values and sycophants who flourish and thrive supinely conforming to the dictates whilst slavishly doing the bidding of their political patrons; such noteworthy values as idealism, integrity and independence, inculcated and ingrained in Thomians over generations, to always think critically and with unblinkered vision, to always act boldly and independently devoid of petty considerations of political correctness or personal advantage, assumes special and heightened significance," he said.

Mr. Casie Chetty who is the headmaster of S. Thomas' Preparatory School, Kollupitiya said the cardinal values his old school instilled in him and many others had helped mould the lives of countless Thomians in the past and must surely continue to be of immeasurable importance to Thomians in the future.

Speaking on the theme for the special general assembly "Building the future, based on the heritage of the past", Mr. Casie Chetty said they must cast their minds to what the future would hold whilst remaining firmly anchored to the values and principles which guided the college's founder Bishop James Chapman, the first bishop of the diocese of Colombo and its legendary wardens such as Miller, Stone and De Saram.

"The character and conduct, life and example of individuals of the calibre of Chapman, Miller, Stone, De Saram, Hayman and Keble who have played such an integral and vital role in the development of our beloved school bear more than ample testimony to the worth, efficacy and relevance of such values," Mr. Casie Chetty said.

"I have always considered these values, which I have absorbed whilst a student at the college, as having a profound impact on my life, and I wouldn't be faulted in making bold to say that these very values have formed the very core and essence of, what we popularly refer to as the intangible "Thomian spirit," he added.

"Other values having equal validity and significance are those of idealism, integrity and independence. Once again the names of Chapman, Miller, Stone, De Saram, Hayman and Keble personify those attributes which we Thomians have come to cherish and admire.

Mr. Casie Chetty said he was a fourth generation Thomian on his paternal side, with a direct line of descent dating as far back as the founding of the college in Mutwal.

Mr. Casie Chetty concluded his speech by reading a poem entitled "Esto Perpetua" composed by his late father Mervyn Casie Chetty who was a distinguished old boy of the school in 1968 on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the college.

Delayed budget on March 8

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti

The People's Alliance government would present its much-delayed budget on March 8, seeking to provide for a total of Rs. 364,971,082,000 with defence expenditure hitting an all time high Rs. 63 billion.

Originally, the government proposed to present the budget in late March and to continue part of the committee stage debate after the Sinhala-Hindu New Year. The move met with vehement opposition by other political parties. The December budget was postponed due to the holding of Parliamentary elections on October 10, 2000 which resulted in the passing of a vote on account instead. The second reading is scheduled for March 12. With 19 days being allocated for the committee stage reading, the vote will be taken on April 12.

Government sources hinted at a possible reverting to the former Business Turnover Tax (BTT) in place of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) through the budget.

With business community unhappy with the increase in the defence expenditure, government legislators had proposed to the President to introduce programmes which would be conducive to export-led growth, sources said.


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