Case Reference/File No [1994] 1 SriLR 1
Case Name Channa Pieris and others v. Attorney-General and others (Ratawesi Peramuna Case)
Court Supreme Court
Date of judgement 17th Feb 1994
Judges Amerasinghe J
Goonewardhene J
Wijetunga J
Parties Petitioner
Channa Piris and others



1st respondent – Attorney-General
2nd respondent – Inspector-General of Police
3rd respondent – Inspector Ekanayake Mudiyanselage Karunatilake, OIC, Police Station, Wadduwa
4th respondent – Sub-Inspector Galkanda Arachchige Sunil Piyaratne of Wadduwa Police
5th respondent
OIC, Security Co-ordinating Division, Colombo [in Application Nos. 146/92, 147/92, 152/92, 155/92]; OIC, Police Station, Maradana [in Application Nos. 149/92, 151/92];                              
OIC, Police Station, Pettah [in Application Nos. 148/92, 150/92, 153/92, 154/92]

6th respondent – OIC, Police Station, Maradana [in Application No. 155/92]

7th respondent – OIC, Police Station, Pettah [in Application No. 155/92]
Keywords Articles 11, 13(1), (2), (3) and (4), 14(1) (a) and (c) – legality of an arrest – communication of reasons for arrest – freedom of speech and expression – freedom of association – detention and torture – Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations 17, 18(1), 19.
Head note  
Brief facts In this case ten applications were heard together filed by petitioners who were members of a movement named Ratawesi Peramuna under the leadership of Atureliye Rathana. On 27th Feb 1992 a meeting was held at the Kawduduwa Temple with around 15 participants and on an anonymous telephone call, a police party went to the temple and listened to the meeting waiting outside the closed door and windows. Then he tapped open the door and arrested the members after explaining the reason of the arrest.

The Court held that rights entrenched under Articles 12, 14(1)(h) and (g) of the Constitution have not been violated due to lack of evidence and submissions.
Judicial Precedence The court paid attention to the procedure in arresting a person; held that the place of detention of persons arrested under Regulation 18 of the Emergency Regulations should be a place authorized by the Inspector- General of Police or Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Superintendent of Police or Assistant Superintendent of Police to make such detention legal wherefore the incompatibility between the procedure laid down by law and the procedure carried out would amount to a violation of Article 13(1) and (2) of the Constitution. Considering the legality of the alleged throwing down of the government, the court held the means of accomplishment of such purpose is decisive; if such means is legitimate, the court held, that the effect on the party so falling is not relevant. The court also identified that Regulation 233(a) aims the protection of the existing government only from change by means of revolution, violence and terrorism, by means of criminal force or show of criminal. The court also held that it is the duty of the law enforcing authorities to suppress a threatened danger before the flames blaze into conflagration: “Law enforcement officers cannot reasonably be required to measure the danger from every such utterance in the nice balance of a jeweler’s scale. At the same time, sufficient regard must be had to the constitutional right of free speech. Here the Police had their suspicions and hoped that some evidence might turn up to make their suspicions reasonable. Detention for search has here not been in accordance with the procedure established by Regulation 18(1′)”. In relation to Article 11 of the Constitution, three main concerns appeared: “(i) The acts or conduct complained of must be qualitatively of a kind that a Court may take cognizance of. Where it is not so, the Court will not declare that Article 11 has been violated; (ii) Torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment may take many forms, psychological and physical; (iii) Having regard to the nature and gravity of the issue, a high degree of certainty is required before the balance of probability might be said to tilt in favour of a petitioner endeavouring to discharge his burden of proving that he was subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
Legislation Title The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka 1978
Area Violation of fundamental rights under Articles 11, 13(1), (2), (3) and (4), 14(1) (a) and (c); legality of an arrest and communication of reasons for arrest; detention and torture under Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations 17, 18(1), 19.