Former HRCSL member files FR against emergency 

Saturday, 30 July 2022 01:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says emergency regulations restricts the people
  • Allows for overbroad powers of search, arrest, detention and interrogation
  • Requests courts to stay the operation of state of emergency

Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) former member Ambika Satkunanathan


Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) former member Ambika Satkunanathan has filed a fundamental rights petition challenging the declaration of the state of emergency by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the emergency regulations. 

In her petition (SCFR 246/2022), Satkunananthan has stated that emergency regulations have the effect of restricting the fundamental rights of the people, and are constitutionally overbroad. She also goes on to claim that the regulations are vague, overbroad and amount to prior restraints of fundamental rights, and are not permissible proportionate restrictions, which are necessary in a democratic society. 

Former Secretary to the President Attorney-General Gamini Senarath, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, Ministry of Defence Secretary General (Retd.) G.D.H. Kamal Gunaratne, have been named as respondents to the case. 

Petitioner alleged the emergency regulations allow for the overbroad powers of search, arrest and detention and interrogation while imposing restrictions and prior restraint on freedom of speech, assembly, association and movement. 

She pointed out that it also allowed for the issuance of detention orders without judicial oversight, along with the arbitrary piling on of punishments and imposition of offences and penalties. She also highlighted that the regulations allow for arbitrary or excessive restrictions on bail and arbitrary restrictions on access to detainees.

Satkunanathan in her petition said constitutional articles allowing for these are not necessary and are not proportionate responses required in a democratic society while it also does not deal with the exigencies of the current situation.

Accordingly, the petitioner has requested the country to declare her fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 12(1) of the Constitution have been infringed by the respondents.

While requesting the court grant appropriate interim relief till the final decision on the application, she also requested the courts to prevent the respondents and officers serving under them from acting in accordance with the emergency regulations and staying the operation of the regulations and the operation of the Extraordinary Gazette 2289/07 published on 18 July 2022.

She has also requested the courts to stay the operation of the proclamation declaring a state of emergency and to declare that the proclamation declaring a state of emergency published in Gazette Extraordinary 2288/30 dated 17 July 2022 is null and void.