Leave to proceed in businessman’s FR case for alleged unlawful arrest, 28-month detention

The Supreme Court granted leave to proceed in a Fundamental Rights Petition filed by a businessman who was unlawfully arrested and detained for 28 months by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and subsequently released by Mount Lavinia Magistrate Nirosha Fernando, after State Counsel informed Court that there was no incriminating evidence to keep him in custody.

Counsel for the Petitioner Romesh de Silva P.C. with K.S. Rathnavel, cited Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Vaas Gunawardena, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Anura Senanayake, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the Attorney General (AG), together with eight others as Respondents.

Petitioner Ramasamy Prabhakaran, a businessman involved in the marketing and sale of electrical and household items at the Majestic City complex, was a frequent traveller abroad. On or about May 16, 2009, while he was away in India, Police personnel from Wellawatta Police Station, together with the CID, visited his residence and conducted a search, following which they had taken documents and material related to his family and friends.

He states that, as they could not find any evidence to substantiate the purpose for which they came, they took his wife to Wellawatta Police Station and questioned her for a long time. Petitioner said that, after his wife informed the Police that her husband would return to the country and make himself available at the Station, they released her.

Mr. Prabhakaran said that on May 21, 2009, he was interrogated by one of the Respondents, SP Mahin Dole together with other Officers, of how well he knew Col. Ranjith Chandrasiri Perera of the Sri Lanka Army and what connections he had with him. Petitioner, while denying all allegations made against him, stated that he was a friend of the Colonel for the past 20 years and that he was a neighbour of one of his relatives in Bandarawela.

Petitioner was then taken by SSP Vaas Gunawardena to the CCD and was assaulted with an iron rod in the most inhuman and degrading manner, where he was injured over most parts of his body, including his private parts. He further stated that on May 24, 2009, personnel from the CCD and SIS entered his shop for another search and destroyed most of the goods to the value of about Rs 35 Million.
He said that cruel torture was carried out on him almost every day while he was in police custody. He also claimed that the CCD had taken most of his documents and also the van he was using, which he had purchased on lease basis, and to date, not returned same. Petitioner further said that, after the initial date, he was not taken to Court, but the Magistrate visited him in custody. On the relevant case dates, Petitioner said that, even after the Magistrate ordered medical attention for him, the CID did not comply.

Attorney-at-Law K.S. Ratnavel said that, when the case was taken up at the Mt. Lavinia Courts, the State Counsel informed Court that, in the absence of incriminating evidence, they were not proceeding with the case, and that the necessary papers would be forwarded to the Magistrates’ Court.
He said that, when the papers had not been delivered on two successive occasions, Magistrate directed that, the Petitioner should be released on September 16, as there were no grounds for his continued detention.

The Bench listed the case to be mentioned on November 1.

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