By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Supreme Court yesterday (7) deferred to 31 October the resumption of hearing of the Fundamental Rights petition lamenting certain unidentified anti-social elements behind the incident of vandalised Buddhist shrine in Mankulam, apparently to stir religious unrest in the country and to perturb the hard-won peace at a cost of hundreds of thousands of precious lives belonging to all communities.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice K.Sripavan, Justices Priyantha Jayawardane and Anil Gooneratne.
Petitioner Naganda Kodituwakku, a lawyer by profession, cited the Attorney General, Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, Governor Reginold Cooray, Buddha Sasana and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe as well as the AG again for President Maithripala Sirisena.
The Petitioner states that from the information published in the public domain it is apparent that there had been several demands made by the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Chairman C.V.K. Sivagnanam addressed to the Attorney General and the Governor seeking the removal of Buddhist shrine rooms installed in Northern Province when the security forces occupied the region.
He states the Northern Provincial Council has conveniently disregarded the simple truth that Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country where the majority Sinhalese account for 74% of the total population, whereas both Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils account only for 12.6% of the population of 21,866,445 and that the protection given to Buddhism under Article 9 is an entrenched provision which cannot be touched even if the total number of Tamil population voted against it and no Government in power wanted to do away with it unless the people of Sri Lanka give a clear mandate at a referendum.
He states the Tamil politicians who administer the Northern Province Council shall be realistic in their approach and shall not make any unfair and absolutely unreasonable demands to repeal the provision in the Constitution, affording the Buddha Sasanaya a constitutional protection, unless the majority Sinhalese themselves agree to remove it with a clear mandate given at a referendum to repeal the said protection.
He states that the disregard of the Constitutional Obligations by the Respondents and their failure to prevent this immoral act apparently initiated by the Northern Provincial Council, which could have easily inflamed religious riots, and blown into unimaginable proportions.
He states that a disaster was averted purely due to the high level of tolerance of majority Sinhala-Buddhist Community, which has matured itself since the bitter experience of 1983 ethnic violence.
He states the failure to take appropriate remedial measures at the right time is a clear violation of Constitutional duties vested in the Respondents and is contrary to the Constitutional Oath, taken by them, wherein they have made a pledge to the people to perform their respective offices faithfully with due regard and respect to the Constitution and the law.
He is asking the Court to grant and issue Interim Order directing the Respondents to take immediate actions by all means necessary, to secure, protect and/or safeguard Samma Sambuddha Sasanaya and all movable and immovable properties including all personal at risk.