AG seeks a fuller bench to hear FR petitions

The Attorney General yesterday sought a fuller bench comprising more than five judges of the Supreme Court to hear several Fundamental Rights petitions filed over the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel appearing for the Attorney General (AG) informed the Supreme Court that the AG has already filed a motion seeking a fuller bench since these applications are of public importance.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice Murdu Fernando and Justice E.A.G.A. Amarasekara fixed the petitions for support on June 6.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara and former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando who had been named as respondents in connection with these Fundamental Rights petitions were represented by private attorneys when the petitions were taken up before the Supreme Court yesterday.

Senior Counsel Viran Corea informed the Supreme Court that he was appearing on behalf of IGP Pujith Jayasundara while Hemasiri Fernando was represented by President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne. At a previous occasion, the Attorney General informed court that his department would not appear on behalf of other respondents including IGP and former Defence Secretary.

Several Fundamental Rights petitions including a petition had been filed by a father of two deceased children who died during the Easter Sunday attacks.

In his petition, petitioner Saman Nandana Sirimanne, the father of late Medha Sathsarani Sirimanne, 21, and late Imesh Thiwanka Sirimanne, 19, who met an untimely death at the explosion that took place on the April 22, 2019 at Shrine of St. Anthony Church, Kochchikade filed this FR petition seeking an order to investigate and prosecute the Inspector General of Police and former Defence Secretary under Penal Code.

The petitioner stated that late Medha Sathsarani Sirimanne, 21, was an under-graduate of the external programme of the Kelaniya University. The petitioner stated that his late son Imesh Thivanka Sirimanne aged 19 was to for the GCE (A/L) examination in 2019.

The petitioner stated that late Thathsarani and late Umesh had gone to the Shrine of St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade, in order to pray for their upcoming exams and obtain blessings. Though they are both Buddhists, the Shrine of St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade was a preferred place for prayers not only for the Catholics but by people of all religions.

The petitioner stated that his two children died due to the bomb blast that took place at St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade leaving the petitioner to face the sudden and unexpected loss of both his children in the prime of their youth.

The petitioner stated that he as well as every citizen of this country is entitled for the right of equality before the law and equal protection of the law as Article 12 (1) of the Constitution of the republic as a Fundamental Rights.

The petitioner seeks to challenge inter alia, the persistent failure on the part of the Inspector General of Police and the former Defence Secretary to investigate and failure to take appropriate steps to safeguard public security.

The petitioner stated that at least 359 people were killed including at least 37 foreign nationals and three police officers with at least 500 were injured during series of coordinated terrorist suicide bombings at three Christian Churches and three luxury hotels.

The petitioner alleged that the respondents had received an intelligence memo warning about possible suicide bomb attacks on churches, other places of financial and economically vital places being planned by Mohammed Zaharan, the leader of an extremist National Islamist group called Thawheed Jamath.

Senior Counsel Gamini Perera with Senior Counsel Chrishmal Warnasuriya, Counsel Ravindranath Dabare and Ishara Gunawardena appeared for the petitioner.

Senior Counsel Viran Corea appeared for the IGP. President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne appeared for former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando. Additional Solicitor General Farzana Jameel with State Counsel Induni Punchihewa appeared for the Attorney General.


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