SC fixes dates to hear FR petitions on Easter attacks

Saturday, 16 January 2021 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Dozen FR petitions to be heard from 8-10 March 
  • AG declines to appear for ex-CDS and former Navy commander 
  • Petitioners say top former Govt. officials failed to prevent attacks despite possessing info

The Supreme Court yesterday decided to take up 12 Fundamental Rights petitions on three consecutive days from 8 March that were filed against key officials, alleging they failed to take adequate measures to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks despite possessing sufficient information. 

The petitions were called before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Supreme Court judges Buwaneka Aluvihare, Sisira de Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, L.T.B. Dehideniya, Murdu Fernando and Preethi Padman Surasena.

The seven-member judge bench decided to take up the petitions on 8, 9 and 10 March. The petitions were filed against top officials of the former Government, including former President Maithripala Sirisena, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, and former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara. 

Attorney-at-law Harsha Fernando, appearing on behalf of former Chief of Defence Staff Ravindra Wijegunaratne and former Navy Commander Admiral Piyal de Silva, who were named as the respondents of the petitions, informed the court that the duo will no longer be represented by the Attorney General.

Further, the judge bench, taking into account a request made by their attorney, granted permission to former Chief of Defence Staff and former Navy chief to file objections challenging the petitions before 15 February.

Both Petitioners and respondents were meanwhile ordered to hand over their written submissions on or before 24 February. 

The Attorney General, on 3 May 2020, also declined to appear for IGP Pujith Jayasundara and DIG of the Special Security Division Priyalal Dasanayake in the FR Petition before the Supreme Court, despite the request made by the Police Legal Division Director.

Petitioners claim the inaction/actions of the Respondents constitute Executive and Administrative Action.

They seek the Court for a declaration that the Respondents have violated the fundamental rights to equality and equal protection by law, as well as the freedom to engage in lawful occupation and business.

They are also asking the Court to direct the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute the IGP under the Penal Code. 

On 21 April 2019, three Christian churches – namely Shrine of St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade; St. Sebastian’s Church, Negombo; and Zion Church in Batticaloa – were bombed whilst the Easter service was taking place on one of the most important days on the Christian calendar.

Three further attacks took place at the Shangri-La Colombo, Cinnamon Grand and The Kingsbury. The three luxury hotels in the commercial capital Colombo were targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings.

Later that day, there were more explosions that took place at a housing complex in Dematagoda and a guest house in Dehiwala when Police approached to apprehend suspects who aided and abetted the attacks and where the suspects were homed to organise these attacks targeted in several cities in Sri Lanka.

At least 260 people were killed, including at least 37 foreign nationals and three Police officers, and at least 500 were injured in the said bombings up to date.