SC awards Rs. 500,000 to expat Tamils

The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the officers of Terrorists Investigation Department (TID) to hand over the premises they are occupying in Wellawatte to the owners within 8 weeks.

Court delivered its judgment on the fundamental rights petition of two expatriate Sri Lankans who are residents of Switzerland complaining of the alleged unlawful occupation of their own premises at Wellawatte by officers of the Terrorists Investigation Department.

Justice B.P.Aluvihara with Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and Justice Anil Gooneratne agreeing in his judgment held that the petitioners’ fundametal right to equality has been violated by the TID and awarded Rs 500,000 to the petitioners as compensation.

The court also ordered for the payment to the Petitioners as costs.

The Court declared that the amended Emergency Regulations was ultra vires and null and void.

Petitioners Shanmugam Sivarajah Nagarajah and Sivarajah Sarojini Devi cited OIC of the TID, its Director, DIG of the TID, Inspector Abdeen and Subair of the TID, IGP, Secretary and Additional Secretary to the Defence Ministry, Lalith Weeratunge who was the Secretary to the former President and the Attorney General as Respondents.

Valarmathy Sundaralingam, who is the Power of Attorney Holder for the Petitioners Shanmugam Sivarajah and Sivarajah Sarojini Devi filed a Counter Affidavit on behalf of the Petitioners.

She stated one Sivapragasam Vijayanesan who was the cousin of the 2nd Petitioner Sarojini Devi facilitated the purchase on behalf of the Petitioner and initially was in occupation of the said premises.

The Petitioner Sivarajah left the country as a refugee due to the conditions that prevailed in the country.

Valarmathy in her affidavit stated the said Vijayanesan was entrusted with the said property on trust and he acted on the petitioners’ behalf on entering in to agreements with person for the lease of the house informally namely to the Centre for Health. Later she said Vijayanesan had migrated to Australia in 2008.

She pointed out it is mysterious as to how the 1st Respondent OIC and his officers would conclude that the said property had been used to commit offences and/or illegal activities and then take action to release the employees who were arrested from the said Centre who would have been part of the said illegal activities.

The female officers of the TID commenced occupying the said premises on July 26, 2009 and the purported order made by the Defence Minister was made in December 2009 and the same had been communicated to the IGP only on December 28 of 2009, she pointed out. The OIC of the TID failed to explain the manner in which the said female officers were authorized to lodge in the said premises and if it was done under authority, there would have been some form of documentation authorizing them to occupy, she alleged.

She stated she lived in the said premises with her elderly relative and his younger daughter. Although the 1st floor is occupied by female police officers, occasionally men visited the premises even at night and whereby they were compelled to keep the gates of the said premises opened even at night.

Both parties had earlier informed Court that they were attempting to settle the matter and the Court granted time for settlement.

The Court had granted leave to proceed with this rights petition for the alleged infringement of their fundamental right to equality.

Saliya Peiris instructed by Gowry Shangary Thavarasha appeared for the Petitioners.

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