SC reserves judgment on Thera’s FR petition against police

The Supreme Court reserved judgment in a fundamental rights (FR) petition filed by a Buddhist monk for unlawful arrest, detention and harassment by the Police of the Mihintale Police station.

Petitioners Ven. Walawahangunawewa Dharmaratana Thera and Mihintale Seelaratana Thera of the Mihintale Temple cited Mihintale Police Officer-in-Charge Sanjeewa Mahanama, Chandana Weeraratana Waduge, the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petition states that on March 12, 2009, some tourists from Cambodia visited their temple to pay homage to Lord Buddha. While sweeping the garden the second petitioner Seelaratana Thera had noticed the second respondent Weeraratana attempting to open the tourists’ bags which had been left outside while the tourists were inside the temple. He had then accosted Weeraratana and inquired why he was tampering with the bags, when Weeraratana had assaulted him and run away.

The petitioner further stated that, on March 13, the Police had visited the temple and requested the petitioners to come to the station, to record a statement regarding a complaint made against them by Weeraratana. On March 18, when the Thera, accompanied by a lawyer, appeared at the station to make a statement, he was arrested, remanded and later released on bail.

The petitioner stated that the reason for the harassment and intimidation was because he had previously made a statement to the Magistrate, incriminating Weeraratana and some senior Police officers, in the case where the late Dr. Johnpulle’s residence was burnt down during an election campaign.

Attorney-at-Law J.C. Weliamuna appeared for the petitioners. The Bench, while reserving judgment for January, directed both Counsels to submit written submissions within three weeks, with copies to the Bench.

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