Writ petitions filed by Kurunegala Mayor, others fixed for objections

The writ petitions filed by Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa and four others in connection with the demolition of a building with archaeological value in Kurunegala were yesterday fixed for objections by the Court of Appeal.

Accordingly, Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice (President) A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Sobhitha Rajakaruna fixed the petitions for objections on September 21. The respondent parties including the Attorney General were directed to file their objections before the next date. On August 25, the Court of Appeal had issued an Interim  Order staying the operation of arrest warrants issued by Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court against Kurunegala Mayor and four others.

This Interim Order will be effective until the final determination of these writ petitions.

However, the Court of Appeal had observed that this order should not be an obstacle for the ongoing investigations including recording statements from the petitioners.

On August 7, warrants have been issued by Kurunegala Magistrate on Kurunegala Mayor Thushara Sanjeewa Vitharana, Kurunegala Municipal Commissioner Pradeep Nishantha Thilakaratne, Municipal Engineer Chaminda Bandara Adikari, Superintendent of works Ilaludeen Sulfiya, and backhoe machine operator Lakshman Priyantha regarding this demolition incident.

The petitioners have named Kurunegala Magistrate, Attorney General, Acting IGP, Director General of Archaeology, OIC of Kurunegala Police Station and OIC of Special Investigations Unit of Kurunegala as respondents.In his petition, Kurunegala Mayor stated that on or about the 24th July 2020, a building situated within the city limits of the Kurunegala Municipal Council collapsed and in the following few days wide media publicity was given to this incident and certain allegations were made against him alleging that the building was an antiquity within the meaning of the Antiquities Ordinance.

The Mayor stated that no intentional criminal act was committed by him or any one of the other employees whose statements were recorded in the course of the investigations.

The petitioner further said he and the other employees of the Kurunegala Municipal Council acted in good faith and in the course of their duties without any intent to commit any offence either under the Antiquities Ordinance or any other Law. The petitioner said he is entitled in law to apply to the Court of Appeal in respect of the abuse of the process of justice by the respondents and to quash the warrant wrongfully obtained by the respondents collectively. The petitioner states that notwithstanding the media reports pertaining to this issue speaks of an antiquity being destroyed, it is relevant to identify whether the building concerned can be considered as an antiquity or not.

He further states that the entire incident has been misinterpreted and or inaccurately interpreted by persons with political interest.

President’s Counsel Rienzie Arsecularatne, Kalinga Indatissa, Shavindra Fernando PC, counsel Riad Ameen and counsel Udara Muhandiramge appeared for the petitioners. Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanna with Senior State Counsel Madawa Tennakoon appeared for the Attorney General.

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