Thilayanadan and Others v. Capt. Thilakaratne and Others
THILAYANADAN AND OTHERS
v.CAPT. THILAKARATNE AND OTHERS
SUPREME COURTAMERASINGHE, J.,
WADUGODAPITIYA, J. ANDWEERASEKERA J.
S.C. APPLICATION NO. 970/97 WITHS.C. APPLICATION NO. 971/97NOVEMBER 11, 1998
Fundamental rights – Transport of goods in breach of Emergency Regulations- Articles 13 (1) and 13 (2) of the Constitution.
Various goods were transported to Mannar town on permits issued by theCo-ordinating Officer, Mannar, on two applications made by one Amanulla andone application made by Gunaratnam of Ratnam Motors. The goods were storedat Francis Stores, Mannar town. Thereafter, the Commanding Officer of the Army,Mannar, received information that goods including motor spare parts, engine oil,torch batteries, tyres and tubes were being transported to Erunkulampitiya, a smallvillage where there were no shops to market such goods. The petitioners whowere transporting the goods in lorries were arrested and the goods seized. Thepetitioners were handed over to the police who produced them before a Magistrate.The goods seized exceeded the goods referred to in the permit. They were alsoexcessive having regard to the number of vehicles in use in Mannar Island. TheSenior Superintendent of Police, Mannar, stated that Erunkulampitiya was anuninhabited area visited by the LTTE to collect items for their camps in themainland.
The respondents had reasonable grounds to arrest and detain the petitioners interms of Regulations 32 (a) and 18 of the Emergency Regulations; and that therewas no violation of Articles 13 (1) and 13 (2) of the Constitution.
APPLICATION for relief for infringement of fundamental rights.
Mohan Peiris and Nuwanthi Dias for petitioners.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 2 Sri LR.
Kolitha Dharmawardana, DSG, with S. Rajarathnam, SC and P. P. Ratnayake,SC for respondents.
Cur. adv. vult
November 25, 1998.
SC Application Nos. 970/97 and 971/97 were heard together sincethey related to essentially the same facts. One A. M. M. Amanulla,the proprietor of Attanagalla Transport Agent and Distributors and thePartner of Sriharan Traders of Mannar submitted two applications tothe Co-ordinating officer of Mannar, for the transportation of variousgoods. One Gunaratnam of Ratnam Motors also submitted anapplication. These applications were approved. The goods were thentransported to the Mannar Island on the 22nd of October and the24th of October, 1997 and handed over to Francis Alphons of FrancisEnterprises, Mannar, the petitioner in SC Application No. 970/97 andkept at his store known as Topaz Building. The 1st and 2ndrespondents in SC Application No. 971/97 arranged for the transportof the goods in two lorries from that store to Erunkulampitiya whichwas about 6 kilometres away from Topaz Building which was alsosituated on the Island of Mannar. One of the lorries was driven bythe 3rd petitioner in SC Application No. 970/97 and the second lorrywas driven by the 5th petitioner in SC Application No. 970/97. The7th and 8th petitioners were in the lorry driven by the 3rd petitionerand the 2nd, 5th and 6th petitioners were in the lorry driven by the4th petitioner. The two lorries were stopped at a check point wherethe Police permitted the lorry to proceed. However, about 50 metresaway the lorries were stopped by Army personnel.
The Commanding Officer of the Army Camp, Mannar, had receivedinformation that a large quantity of goods was to be transported fromMannar Town to Erunkulampitiya, including motor spare parts, engineoil, torch batteries, tyres and tubes. Since Erunkulampitiya was avery small village which did not have any shops to market these items,
Thilayanadan and Others v. CapL Thilakaratne and Others (Amerasinghe, J.)
the Commanding Officer had set up the check point at which the lorrieswere stopped. The Commanding Officer was informed by one Charles' that the goods had been brought to Mannar Island on a valid permit.However, when he was asked to produce the permit he stated thatthe permit was with Amanulla's broker. Although it was the practicethat a permit had to be obtained from the Brigadier of Thalladi ArmyCamp to transport certain goods within Mannar Island, no such permithad been obtained. The Commanding Officer was suspicious in thecircumstances and his suspicion was increased when he found thata sum of Rs. 4,000 was to be paid for the hire of each of the vehiclesto travel the short distance of 6 kilometres. The Commanding Officerthen released the petitioners and instructed Charles to produce thepermit referred to by him on the next day. The Commanding Officerthen nominated an Army party to guard the lorries and goods andreported the incident to the Commanding Officer. The persons whowere in possession of the goods came to the Mannar Town ArmyCamp on 28.10.97 and produced some photocopies of permits. It wasobserved that they did not bear the two parallel lines that are usuallydrawn on a permit after it has been inspected. Moreover, the quantityof goods seized greatly exceeded the quantity of goods referred toin the permit. In the circumstances, the lorries and the suspects werehanded over to the Police with an explanation of the circumstancesin which the petitioners were arrested and the goods seized.
The petitioners state that the goods were being transported fromMannar Town to Erunkulampitiya because the store at which the goodswere originally housed was in a bad state of repair. It is surprisingthat this fact was realised at the time the goods first arrived in MannarIsland and why it was necessary to temporarily store them insteadof being transported straight away to Erunkulampitiya. On the otherhand, the senior Superintendent of Police, Mannar, has explained thatthe consignment of the goods in the two lorries were far larger inquantity than was reasonably necessary for sale in Mannar Island.Considering the small civilian population and the number of motorvehicles within the island. I am inclined to agree that his view,considering the report marked IRI on the question of the number of
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 2 Sri LR.
vehicles and motor cycles on Mannar Island when compared with theitems listed in the permits marked A1, A2 and A3 and the inventorymade by the Registrar of the District and Magistrate's Court of Mannarfiled in the application. Presumably, he suspected, therefore, that thegoods might be trans-shipped.
According to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mannar, thegoods were being transported to Erunkulampitiya, “a secluded anduninhabited area bordering a shallow lagoon" which was "well-knownamong the residents of Mannar" to have been a place visited by theLTTE to take items for their camps in the mainland area of Vidattativu.
The petitioners were produced before the Magistrate of Mannaron 1st November, 1997 and were remanded.
Although leave to proceed was granted for the alleged infringementof Articles 11, 13 (1) and 13 (3), the petitioners confined theirsubmissions to the alleged violation of Articles 13 (1) and 13 (2) ofthe Constitution. Having regard to the circumstances set out above,I am of the view that the respondents had reasonable grounds toarrest and detain the petitioners in terms of Regulations 32 (a) and18 of the Emergency Regulations No. 4 of 1994. In the circumstances,I hold that there was no violation of Articles 11, 13 (1) or 13 (2) ofthe Constitution and dismiss the applications.
WADUGODAPITIYA, J. – I agree.WEERASEKERA, J. – I agree.
THILAYANADAN ADN OTHERS v. CAPT. THILAKARATNE AND OTHERS