AG declines to appear for IGP and DIG in FR petition on attacks
The Attorney General yesterday declined to appear for IGP Pujith Jayasundara and Special Security Division DIG Priyalal Dasanayake in the Fundamental Rights petition before the Supreme Court despite the request made by the Director of the Police Legal Division.
The Bench comprising Justices Buwaneka Aluvihara and P. Padman Surasena deferred the petition for 21May.
The petition was filed by Janath S.Vidanage who is the Managing Director of a travel company. He cited IGP Jayasundara, Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and DIG Dasanayake as well as the Attorney General as Respondents.
He claims the inaction/actions of the Respondents constitute Executive and Administrative action.
He is seeking the Court for a declaration that the Respondents have violated the Fundamental Rights to equality and equal protection by law as well as the freedom to engage in lawful occupation and business.
He is also asking the Court to direct the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute the IGP under the Penal Code.
The Petitioner claims his primary objectives is inter alia to contribute in the Administrative process whereby a responsible and accountable good governance is put in place and ensure the implementation of the right of equality before the law and equal protection of the law, in a democratic and egalitarian manner safeguarding democracy, pluralism, the rule of law, human rights and social justice.
He states that he as well as every citizen is entitled to right of equality and equal protection of the law.
The Petitioner states that on 21April, three Christian churches, namely the Shrine of St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, and Zion Church in Batticaloawere bombed whilst the Easter service was taking place on one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.
Further three attacks took place at the Shangri-La Hotel, the Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury; the three luxury hotels in the commercial capital Colombo were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings.
Later that day, there were more explosions that took place at a housing complex in Dematagoda and a guest house in Dehiwala when the Police approached to apprehend suspects who aided and abetted and where the suspects organised said attacks targeted on several cities in Sri Lanka.
Over 250 people were killed, including at least 37 foreign nationals and three Police officers, and at least 500 were injured in the said bombings up todate.
On 22 April, the Sri Lankan Government declared a state of Emergency from 23April restricting civil liberties after imposing of a new curfew and the Government also further announced that social media apps would be blocked for use, restricting public communication over the internet, adversely affecting the right to receive information of the public.
He states he became aware among others (cabinet ministers, MPs, several key figures including His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith Archbishop) who had already made public that an intelligence report had been forwarded to the IGP of the imminent danger of a planned attack by suicide bombersorganised by a named extremist religious group targeting Christian churches and economically vital places among others.
In the meantime, a circular/internal memorandum came into light and the Petitioner received a copy of the same authored by the DIG addressed to some security divisions by his letter dated 11 April which is also publicly available but not denied by the 1st, 2nd or the 3rd Respondents of its existence, whereby it is revealed that the IGP received an intelligence memo warning about possible suicide bomb attacks on churches and other financial and economically vital placesbeing planned by Mohammed Zaharan, the leader of Thowheeth Jama’ath.
Accordingly the IGP has advised to take necessary action for protection of only a selected elite, namely the Directors of the Ministerial Security Division, Judicial Security Division,Foreign Officials’ Security Division and Retired Presidents’ Security Division through the 3rd Respondent DIG.
The Petitioner impugns the IGC has not taken any fruitful step in protecting the general public as he was mandated by law and as legitimately expected of him by the citizens of this country.
The IGP could have taken minimum precautionary measures, atleast informing the religious leaders and alerted the public, so much as to even avert the holding of Easter Mass had the IGP chosen to impart with such knowledge equally amongst all the public in order to minimise any tragedy and thereby protect the general public.
The said inaction on the part of the IGP resulted in the death of over 250 up to now and above 500 injured thereon, the day-to-day lives of the general public being affected, the country being at a literal standstill wherein most of the public, trade, manufacture or services have been suspended or are extremely reduced, a potential threat to the tourism industry in Sri Lanka and potential threat to the financial stability of Sri Lanka.
Gamini Perera with Ravinranath Dabare and Ishara Gunawardane appeared for the Petitioner. Senior State Counsel Induni Punchihewa appeared for the Attorney General. (By S.S. Selvanayagam)