Home / Front Page/ Two petitions in SC against Govt. amendments to Penal Code on hate speech

Two petitions in SC against Govt. amendments to Penal Code on hate speech

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 16 December 2015 00:25

  • Petitioner argues new provision replicates PTA provision leading to arrest of critics during previous administration 

By Dharisha Bastians 

Two petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Government’s proposed amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, criminalising hate speech on the grounds that the provisions are identical to sections of the Prevention of Terrorism Act that allowed state to arrest and detain critics, including Journalist J.S. Tissanayagam and Azath Salley. 

The petition has been filed by Editor of the Sudar Oli newspaper, Arun Arokianathan, citing the Attorney General as respondent in the case.  The petitioner argues that a new offence will be brought into the Penal Code under the draft legislation, as Section 290c, which reads: Whoever, by the use of words spoken, written or intended to be read, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, intends to cause or attempts to cause or instigates or attempts to instigate, acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony, or feelings of ill-will or hostility, between communities or different classes of persons or different racial or religious groups, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years. 

The Editor in Chief of Sudar Oli argues that the new proposed provision replicates Section 2(1)(h) of the PTA. 

This section of the draconian anti-terror laws were used to arrest, detain and convict Journalist Tissanayagam and politician Azath Salley. Tissanayagam was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment after his conviction under the PTA provision. 

Arokianathan argues in his petition that Sri Lanka has the necessary laws to prosecute persons engaging in hate speech or inciting communal violence, under the terms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act of 2007. The petitioner states that the inclusion of Section 291C into the Penal Code is inconsistent with Article 10 -relating to the freedom of religious worship - and Article 14 (1) (a) - relating to the freedom of speech - in the Sri Lankan Constitution. 

The Sudar Oli Editor in his petition, appeals to the Supreme Court to declare the Bill to amend the Penal Code Section as inconsistent with Article 10 and Article 14 (1) (a) of the constitution, and communicate that declaration to the Speaker of Parliament. 

Senior human rights lawyer and TNA lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran will appear on behalf of the petitioner, Arokianathan in both cases, filed against the Penal Code amendment and the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, filed in the Supreme Court yesterday. 


Share This Article

Facebook Twitter


1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.


Today's Columnists

Autocatalytic descent from plural democracy to supremacist authoritarianism

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

In a few days, Sri Lanka will celebrate its 72nd year of independence from colonialism. But behind the pomp and pageant of that celebration is a sad reality of an autocatalytic process – a small initial event triggering a chain reaction that evolve

Trump destroying brand USA: Implications for Sri Lanka

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

There is an old adage that ‘politics and tourism’ has a positive correlation. Many have tried to disprove this aspect but the relationship is coming out very strongly, the latest case study to the world being in the United States. Trump cost $4.

Freedom! Freedom! Where art thou?

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Freedom: who could object? Yet this word is now used to justify a thousand forms of exploitation. In the name of freedom – the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak, the rich to exploit the poor. The definition of freedom is, the condition of

Development project information: Public expectations and their right to know

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Infrastructure development will be at the centre-stage during the next five years, irrespective of which mainstream political party will be in power. This writer has previously had articles published in the Daily FT on building regulations, infrastr

Columnists More