Case Reference/File No [1985] 1 SriLR 100
Case Name Edirisuriya v. Navaratnam and others
Court Supreme Court
Date of judgement 28th, 29th and 30th Nov, 1984
Judges Sharvananda J
Wanasundera J
Ranasinghe J
Parties Petitioners



1st respondent – A. Navaratnam, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Southern Range)
2nd respondent – Officer-in-charge, Police Station, Tissamaharama.
3rd respondent – Officer-in-charge, Police Station, Galle.
Keywords Articles 12 (1), 12(2), 13(1) of the Constitution – detention under Emergency Regulations – sections 36,37 and 38 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act
Head note  
Brief facts The petitioner’s version was that his house was searched and he was arrested on 20.7.1984 stating that he was wanted by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Southern Range. The petitioner was taken to the police station Galle and was detained until 26.7.1984 under a detention order which was said to be effective from the previous day. The petitioner stated that he was not told the reason for his arrest and that the questioning of him of the fire occurred in the Magistrate’s Court of Tissamaharama, He was belonged to a political party opposed to the party in power. The 2nd respondent’s position was that the arrest of the petitioner was in connection to an investigation of an offence of setting the Magistrate’s Court on fire and the damage. A preliminary objection was also raised that the application was time-barred which the court refused to uphold on the basis that the petitioner was not held in detention incommunicado and was able to reach to his family and lawyers. The Court held that the arrest and the detention was legal and the application was dismissed.
Judicial Precedence The Court held that the Court would accept an application made outside the prescribed time limit of one month in a case where an adequate excuse for such delay is submitted. If the petitioner was held incommunicado, the principle lex non cogit ad impossibilia would be applied. The Court was of the view that when arresting a person under Regulation 18 of the Emergency Regulations at least one of the grounds set up therein should be there. The power of making a detention order should be exercised only upon the circumstances as specified therein. The Court also held that it has the power to go into the matter to see whether impugned power has been exercised as required and stated by law. “Once the existence of facts and circumstances upon which a reasonable man could have so acted is established to the satisfaction of the Court, the ‘judicial intrusion’ should then come to a halt. It is only if no reasonable man could have, in the circumstances, done what was done, that the Court can justifiably intervene. On the material available at the* time incriminating the petitioner (though subsequently recanted) the detention order can be supported.”
Legislation Title The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka 1978
Area Articles 12 (1), 12(2), 13(1) of the Constitution; Regulations 18 and 19 of Emergency Regulations; Sections 36,37 and 38 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No.15 of 1979