Case Reference/File No [1994] 3 SriLR 127
Case Name Ratnasiri and another v. Devasurendran, Inspector of Police, Slave Island and others
Court Supreme Court
Date of judgement 22nd Sep 1992
Judges Kulatunga J
Ramanathan J
Wadugodapitiya J
Parties Petitioners

1. The driver
2. The conductor of a private omnibus plying between Fort and Homagama


1. I.P. (Crimes) Slave Island Police Station
2. P.S. 3015 Silva – Officer in charge of prosecutions
3. A Police Constable attached to the Police Headquarters as a driver)
4. P.C. 2045
Keywords Article 11 of the Constitution- torture and inhuman treatment
Head note  
Brief facts The petitioners were arrested in relation to an incident occurred between them and a police officer inside a bus on 5.1.1991. Later when he disclosed that he was a police officer the petitioners tried to assault him. While the bus was passing the Lipton Circus roundabout, he pulled the driver from his hair. Then two passengers assaulted the 3rd respondent. The petitioners were arrested at the Town Hall bus stop. The petitioners at the police station were assaulted and were subjected to the following treatments:
(a) They were assaulted with a stick on their heads, knees and the soles and were also kicked;
(b) They were made to wait, in a crouching position (neither seated nor standing) carrying five heavy crown books on their arms extended outwards and held parallel to the ground;
(c) They were forced to kiss each other using their lips;
(d) They were made to creep under a bench and if any part of their body protruded they were kicked and assaulted with stick.

On the basis of evidence that were submitted, the court held that the conduct of the police officers caused “severe pain or suffering” to the petitioners which treatment constitutes “an aggravated form of inhuman treatment or punishment… which grossly humiliates the individual before others…” and such conduct has violated the petitioners’ rights under Article 11.
Judicial Precedence The Court was of the view that personal liability of the officers is impossible of being imposed without establishment of personal identity of the officers. However, the Court commented that the present case and similar cases which were previously decided consisting events of torture creates an impression that superior officers turn a blind eye on such situations and refrain from taking further measures if personal responsibility was not established: “If a suspect is subjected to brutal assault or inhuman treatment at a Police Station by subordinate officers, can the superior officers there always feign ignorance of such assault? Are they not answerable to the State for such infamous conduct? If the Inspector General of Police fails to give his mind to these issues, acquiescence in such conduct may be attributed to the State itself, which would be an unhappy development, especially in view of the fact that Sri Lanka is a party to International Covenants on Human Rights.”
Legislation Title The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka 1978
Area Violation of Article 11 of the Constitution