For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Tuesday, 07 June 2011 02:01
By Susitha R. Fernando
The Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that Pugoda Magistrate W. Aravinda Perera had acted contrary to law by not complying with the instructions of the Attorney General to release two suspect police officers of the Kirindiwela police station due to lack of evidence.
Appeal Court President Sathya Hettige PC and Justice Upali Aberatna made this observation while ordering the Magistrate to unconditionally release the two police personnel remanded in Mahara prison and issued notice on the Pugoda Magistrate to appear in court on June 27. The court made this direction following a writ application filed by Sub Inspector W. Francis Kulasuriya and Constable Dewmuni Lakshman de Silva of the Kirindiwela police station. Contd. from A1
Pugoda Magistrate W. Aravinda Perera had remanded the two police personnel on suspicion of committing the murder of a man taken into custody. The remand order had been made despite the Attorney General’s instruction that there were no evidence against the policemen and that they be discharged.
While ordering the Pugoda Magistrate to release the two policemen unconditionally, the Court of Appeal also observed that Magistrate Aravinda Perera had acted contrary to law as he had failed to comply with the provisions contained in section 398 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Appeal Court bench stated that according to the section of the CPC, it shall be the duty of the Magistrate to carry into the effect, subject to provision of the CPC the instruction of the Attorney General.
The petitioners among others had cited Pugoda Magistrate W. Aravinda Perera and the AG as respondents.
Supporting the application counsel Shantha Jayawardena instructed by Sanjeewa Kaluarachchi informed court that the two police personnel while on patrol on August 13, 2010 had taken a person named David Amerasinghe into custody for unruly behaviour while under the influence of liquor. On the way to the police station, the suspect had jumped out of the jeep during which he had received fatal injuries. Later he had succumbed to the injuries and during the magisterial inquiry, the Pugoda Magistrate had ordered to remand Sub Inspector W. Francis Kulasuiriya and Constable Dewmuni Lakshman de Silva who were in the police jeep while releasing the driver of the jeep. The two petitioners were suspected for the murder of David Amerasinghe and bail was refused. Appearing for the prosecution of the case, on March 13, 2011 Senior State Counsel Dileepa Peiris who represented the Attorney General had moved to discharge the two suspect policemen as there was no evidence of a criminal offence.
However Magistrate Aravinda Perera had refused the instruction of the AG and ordered to file charge sheet and continue the non-summary proceeding. The petitioners further informed that the Magistrate also had refused to issue a certified copy of the case to a counsel.
They also complained that the Magistrate acted manifestly biased as they were denied a fair trial and his order was ultra virus and null and void. The procedure adapted by the Magistrate was contrary to law said the petitioners and asked that they be released and proceeding relating to the case be stopped.
Meanwhile, following a media report relating to the proceedings of this case, the Magistrate had ordered to suspend the services of Lanka E-news website within Sri Lanka for allegedly committing contempt of court and had remanded its reporter Shantha Wijesuriya. Later the journalist was released after he pleaded guilty and lifted the order on the website.
Counsel Shantha Jayawardena instructed by Sanjeewa Kaluarachchi appeared for the petitioners. Deputy Solicitor General Ysantha Kodagoda appeared for the AG.