By T. Farook Thajudeen
In a case that came up for inquiry before Fort Magistrate’s Court which twisted towards a different course, the Magistrate ordered the Police Narcotic Bureau (PNB) to show cause why the suspect who was remanded by the PNB without a proper investigation, should not be compensated over his illegal arrest.
Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake made this order to the Police Narcotic Bureau during the inquiry into a case in which an ICT engineer who had returned to Sri Lanka from Australia after completing his graduate studies, was arrested on July 24 and remanded for nine days allegedly for trafficking 60 grammes of cannabis. At the inquiry it was revealed that the suspect had returned to Sri Lanka from Australia after completing his graduate studies in Information Technology with the intention of migrating to some western country to read for his Masters degree.
The suspect before returning to Sri Lanka, had handed over two packages of clothes to the Australian Postal Department to be delivered to his Colombo address. Accordingly, on his return to Sri Lanka he had received a letter from the General Post Office to collect a parcel that was addressed in his name. The suspect assuming that it was the parcel that he handed over to the Australian Postal Department to deliver to his Colombo address, had gone to the GPO to collect it. At the GPO he was shown another parcel. At that time the suspect had told the Postal authorities that it was not his parcel. However, when the parcel was opened it had contained 60 grammes of cannabis and the suspect was handed over to the PNB for investigation. The PNB without conducting a proper investigation had produced the suspect before the Fort Magistrate and remanded him for nine days. Thereafter, he was released on bail.
In the meantime, the suspect had received another letter from the Postal Department to collect two other parcels addressed in his name.
Accordingly, at the Post Office the suspect had identified the parcels as his which he handed over to the Australian Postal Department to deliver to his Colombo address.
During the inquiry, President’s Counsel K. V. Thavarasha appearing with Gamini Dissanayake for the suspect contended that the Police Narcotic Bureau had acted arbitrarily without considering the material facts of the case. He said that Cannabis was stuff that was freely available to purchase in every nook and corner in the country. If so why the suspect wanted to traffic it from Australia. He said it was also absurd that the parcel that had been sent to the country for peddling contained only 60 grammes of Cannabis. He said the suspect was originally arrested for possession of cannabis and later the charges had been amended as peddling.
The Counsel said the Police had arrested the suspect without conducting a proper investigation into the facts of the matter, which his client knew nothing about. President’s Counsel Thavarasha also emphasized the fact that at the Post Office when the parcel was shown to the suspect, he had told the Custom’s Officers that it was not the parcels that he handed over to the Australian Postal Department, and opined that the arrest was made without rhyme or reason.
The Counsel held the PNB responsible for the illegal arrest and the remanding the suspect without proper investigation. The counsel underscored the fact that because of this, the future of the suspect was tarnished.
The Magistrate questioned the Police as to whether the suspect was stupified when the parcel was opened. The Police said they did not observe any bizarre behaviour of the suspect. The Magistrate issued summons on the OIC of the PNB to show cause as to why the suspect was not granted bail under Section 124 of the Penal Code.