SC tells IGP must ensure officers adhere to laws

The Supreme Court has observed that Inspector General of Police must take steps to adequately train and supervise all police personnel whether gazetted or non-gazetted to adhere to the laws practiced in this country, to show professionalism in policing and to be trained to provide a people friendly police service to the public.

Supreme Court Judge, Justice S.Thurairaja made these remarks while delivering a judgement in connection with a fundamental rights petition filed by two lawyers for obstructing them from representing and looking into the interests of their client at the Ambalangoda Police Station in 2010.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ordered two police officers to pay Rs.30,000 each to the two attorneys for obstructing them from representing and looking into the interests of their client at the Ambalangoda Police Station in 2010. The Supreme Court further ordered the two police officers to pay Rs.10,000 to each petitioner as litigation costs.

The Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice S. Thurairaja, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare and Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya held that two police officers attached to the Ambalangoda Police Station have violated petitioners' Fundamental Rights enshrined in Article 12 and 14(1)(g) of the constitution after interference with their freedom to engage in their occupation.

Two lawyers Chandima Samanmalee de Zoysa and Sudusinghe Liyanage Pubudu Kumara filed this petition naming Don Saman Harishchandra Malaweera, Inspector attached to the Ambalangoda Police Station, Liyana Arachchige Chandrarathna, a Sub-Inspector attached to the Ambalangoda Police Station and several others as respondents. The Attorney General had refused to appear for these 1st and 2nd Respondent police officers.

The petitioners allege that the behavior of these two police officers during the primary incident took place at the police station on February 28, 2010 using abusive language and the harassment afterwards caused them

severe pain of mind and humiliation. The petitioners further said two respondents caused the Petitioners severe embarrassment and humiliation and to the legal profession at large.

Petitioners submits that such treatment meted out to the Petitioners amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and is a clear violation of the rights guaranteed under Article 11, 12(1) and 14(1)(g) of the Constitution.

As per the findings of the investigation conducted by the Superintendent of Police at Ambalangoda Division, it is established that the 1st and 2nd Respondents have shouted at the two Attorneys-at-law, and thus has disrespected their integrity and disregarded their dignity as persons and professionals. Upon the actions taken by the Superintendent of Police, the 1st and 2nd Respondents were interdicted from service. In his submissions, Senior Counsel Viran Corea appearing for the petitioners submitted to court that the Respondents’ conduct was in violation of ‘Police Rules 2012’. These rules were published in the gazette notification bearing no. 1758/36 dated 18-05-2012.

Clause 3. (1) of the rules is reproduced below: 'Every Attorney-at-Law, who enters the precincts of a police station established under the Police Ordinance situated in any part of Sri Lanka, in his capacity of an Attorney-at-Law for the purpose of representing and watching the interests of a

person who is the client of such Attorney-at-Law, shall be treated cordially and courteously and given a fair and patient hearing by the police officers attached to such Police Station, whatever their rank'.

Senior Counsel Viran Corea with counse Sharmaine Gunaratne, Sarita de Fonseka and Pathum Pramoda appeared for the Petitioners. State Counsel Induni Punchihewa with State Counsel S. Fernando appeared for the Attorney General.

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