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CONSUMER WINS FR PETITION AGAINST CEB, POLICE

For arrest made on false information | CEB ordered to pay Rs.1 million and former Piliyandala OIC to pay Rs. 100,000

The Supreme Court ruled that the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and Piliyandala Police have violated the Fundamental Rights of an electricity consumer by arresting him on false information that he tampered with an electricity meter in 2005.

A Three-Judge-Bench comprising Justice Anil Goonaratne, Justice Sisira de Abrew and Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda ordered the CEB to pay one million rupees as compensation to the petitioner, a resident of Katubedda, for violating his Fundamental Rights.

Nishan de Silva, a former OIC of Piliyandala Police was also directed to pay Rs. 100,000 as compensation to the petitioner.

This is a Fundamental Rights Application pertaining to an electricity meter which had been tampered (alleged to be tampered by the Petitioner). The Petitioner’s main complaint is that he was arrested by the Police on false information.

He also states that the Electricity Board officials (Respondents) falsely implicated and made very incorrect observations to merely put him in trouble. The petitioner also pleaded that the eighth Respondent Nalaka Udayanga closely associates the officers of the Piliyandala Police. The petitioner pleaded that the ninth Respondent, a CEB Manager Investigations had instigated the impugned arrest of the Petitioner, by making false complaints, and the arbitrary arrest of him by the Respondents.

The Supreme Court on 14.03.2012 granted leave to proceed for alleged violation of Article 12(1), 13(1) & 13(2) of the Constitution.

‘This court having considered the version of each party is more than satisfied that the Petitioner’s fundamental rights are breached.

The story of the Petitioner is more convincing than the Respondents. It is regrettable that the official Respondents conducted their usual business in the most unacceptable manner.

It is no excuse for the Police to state that the Petitioner was detained until the report of the CEB was forthcoming to the Police.

 Is it the position that the Police in this instant was unaware of the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code?

Until the arrival of Petitioner’s Attorney, at the Police, kept the Petitioner in Police custody? Why was that? The Respondents who held office in the CEB cannot take cover under the law and take pride for their acts done to the Petitioner. The law should never be flouted to such an extent.

Though such unacceptable acts took place some years ago, I wonder whether the CEB has made an attempt to rectify their mistakes, thereafter. Consumers request should take precedent, and it should never be ignored or delayed.

A Government Agency should serve the people, for which it was established by statute, and should not attempt to harm the consumer based on unacceptable proof,’ Justice Anil Goonaratne observed.

‘Arrest of a person could be done only according to procedure established by law. I am also inclined to hold that the Petitioner was not produced before the Magistrate within the time required by law. These are basic rights available to a citizen, as per Article 13 of the Constitution. Considering all the above matters, I hold that the Petitioner’s fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 12(1), 13(1) and 13(2) of the Constitution have been violated by the OIC of Piliyandala police and CEB,’Justice Anil Goonaratne further added.