The wife of Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen and the Young Journalists Association (YJA) filed two separate complaints with the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) alleging bias and misconduct of Kurunegala Magistrate, Sampath Hewawasam.
Earlier, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in a B- report filed before the Kurunegala Magistrate Court stated that the Magistrate had ordered the expunging of statements made by the Director of the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital, A. M S Weerabandara.
The YJA citing several issues with regard to the conducting of the inquiry including allegations of bias states that the Criminal Investigations Department in their report dated July 11 had informed the Magistrate that 9 out of the 10 complaints against Dr. Shafi were forged by the Kurunegala Police.
Dr. Weerabandara on June 27 informed the court that the HSG test which was scheduled to be conducted on 147 females who complained of subfertility would cause death, cancer or other complications on the women.
Following his submission, the Magistrate suspended the test which was to be conducted. However, the CID had called for reports from nine government and private hospitals on the veracity of the claim by Dr. Weerabandara.
The hospitals include the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital, the Ragama Teaching Hospital, the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital, Asiri Central and Durdans Hospital among others.
Among the 10,000 females who had undergone HSG tests since 2014, there were only four reports of “breathing difficulties” and zero deaths the B- report states.
It also states that the Director of the Kurunegala Hospital had misled court, falsified complaints and had obstructed the officers of the Criminal Investigations Department who sought documentary evidence regarding the claims made by him in court on June 27th.
The CID in its report dated July 11 stated that they had requested for a certified copy of the proceedings which included the submissions made by Dr. Weerabandara against the conducting of the HSG test among others.
However, they had been informed by the Chief Registrar that the submissions made by Dr. Weerabandara were ordered to be expunged by the Magistrate.
The Young Journalists Association in their complaint dated July 18 states that permitting Dr. Weerabandara to make submissions although not a party to the case and the subsequent expunging of his statements from the court record give rise to issues of credibility of the Magistrate.
Meanwhile, sources said that the Magistrate had refused to grant copies of the proceedings of July 11 to Dr. Shihabdeen’s lawyers and the Criminal Investigations Department.
The Magistrate has to sign any request for the proceedings which took place in court and the Chief Registrar had informed parties that the Magistrate had refused to sign any such request.
The complaint by the Young Journalists Association also states that the suspension of the panel of doctors which included the Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo and the appointing of another committee by the Magistrate also give rise to suspicion.
“There was no reason for the order of suspension of the previous committee, or for the appointment of a new one. The fact that the Magistrate had a printed questionnaire in hand on the date of the hearing when there was no request from anyone gives rise to suspicion” the complaint said.
The complaint also went on to state that the Magistrate had acted illegally in remanding Dr. Shihabdeen who had not been named a suspect. The complaint said that the CID had informed the court that they would not proceed against Dr. Shihabdeen due to lack of any evidence against the suspect.
Accordingly, the Complaint states that the Magistrate should have discharged Dr. Shihabdeen as he had not been named a suspect.
Instead, Dr. Shihabdeen was remanded till July 25th. Sources also confirmed that the wife of Dr. Shihabdeen is to make a complaint with the Police Commission against any order for the transfer of the investigation to another arm of the police.
Sources claimed that moves are afoot to transfer the case from the Criminal Investigations Department which had concluded the investigations and made findings against the conduct of several police officers attached to the Kurunegala Police station and North Central Province. (Shehan Chamika De Silva)