Tue, 24 May 2022 Today's Paper

Police Ordinance: is it adequate?

17 June 2014 06:37 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

On Sunday 8 June 2014 it was reported that the Ministry of Law and Order of Sri Lanka had begun the process of reviewing and revising the Police Ordinance No.16 of 1865 (As subsequently amended) due to the provisions being ‘no longer adequate for the proper maintenance of law and order in the country’.
The  Ministry of Law and Order was established by His Excellency the President on 16 August 2013 by the Gazette Notification (Extraordinary) No.1823/70.


Under Column I, Item 5 of the said Gazette the ‘Maintenance of Law and Order’ is listed as a function of the new Ministry among others. Under Column II the Police Department is set out as a Department under the said Ministry and under Column 3 titled ‘laws to be implemented’, ‘The Police Ordinance’ is listed.
It is important to highlight that whilst continuing reform of law is welcome as and when required, it is as important that the law as it is, is implemented according to the situation to ‘maintain law and order’. This article shall specifically highlight issues arising in the context of recent developments in Aluthgama  during the past week and consider as to whether the Police Ordinance was inadequate to properly maintain the law and order of the country.

For the purposes of this article it is required to set out in brief the incidents that took place as sparsely reported in local and international media. These incidents arose in Aluthgama due to a certain offence alleged to have been committed by a Muslim youth against a Buddhist monk and his driver on 12 June, 2014 and three suspects had been apparently arrested in this connection.

On June 14 the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) an Organisation promoting Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism organised a rally, alarmingly in Aluthgama itself. It is understood by reports and videos published that this was in reaction to the above-mentioned incident. After this rally a convoy of vehicles consisting of the BBS and its supporters proceeded  to the area of Dharga in Aluthgama (resided predominantly by persons of Muslim origin) where they were pelted with stones, which lead to several clashes and a serious  breach of peace leading to police curfew being implemented in both Aluthgama and Beruwala. As for the occurrence of the breach of peace one cannot judge who is responsible at this stage but the more pertinent issue in my opinion, is the role of the Law enforcement authorities, in particular the Aluthgama Police Divison under the purview of the Ministry of Law and Order and as to whether the Law and order of the country could have been maintained if the provisions of the Police Ordinance were implemented?

In my opinion the most grave issue that arises is as to how the Rally on June 14 was permitted to be held in the circumstances. Leading up from incidents prior to June 14 where racial tensions were obviously involved a rally was permitted to be held in Aluthgama conducted by the BBS.  Whilst having the fundamental freedom to conduct rallies anywhere in Sri Lanka, such public processions cannot be held without the permission of the Police under the Police Ordinance.

Under Section 77(1) of the Police Ordinance  to conduct a procession in public, notice in writing of same must be given at least 6 hours prior to such procession to the officer in charge of the police station nearest to the place at which the procession is to commence. Therefore notice of the rally by the BBS would have been given in writing to the Officer in Charge of the Aluthgama Police Division and if not the said rally itself would have been unlawful under Section 77(2) of the Ordinance.
Section 77(3) provides that an officer of the police of a rank not below the grade of Assistant Superintendent, if he considers it expedient so to do so in the interests of the preservation of public order, may give directions (whether orally or in writing) prohibiting the taking out of any procession or imposing upon the person or persons organizing or taking part in the procession such conditions as appear to him to be necessary …..’

The obvious question arises as to why the rally was not prohibited ‘in the interest of the preservation of public order’ by the relevant officer? This should have been an instance where such a rally should have been prohibited without the bat of an eye lid. In the circumstances of the incident and considering the recent history of the BBS, if the imminent threat to public order could not have been foreseen in the eyes of the police it is my opinion that this amounts to negligence by the police in carrying out its duties to preserve the peace. It was this lack of foresight that mainly led to the consequent breach of peace which clearly could have been averted. This is indeed a matter that must be inquired into by the Ministry of Law and Order.

The second consideration would be even if it were not prohibited were there any directions imposed  upon such persons who organised this rally in order for ‘preservation of public order’?  Breach of the same amounts to an Offence under the Ordinance. Further Section 78 of the Police Ordinance gives an officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector to direct the conduct of the procession, prescribe the routes and time of such procession and to even cause the crowd to disperse if a breach of peace is anticipated.

We must also consider the fact that the conduct at the said rally, also regulated by the Police Ordinance.  Section 79(2) provides as follows ‘ Any person who in any public place or at any public meeting uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour which is intended to provoke a breach of the peace or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned, shall be guilty of an offence under this section.’ In the wake of the sentiments expressed at the public meeting after which the grave breach of peace took place it does not take much consideration to see whether an offence under the above section has taken place. It is pertinent to note that I am still speaking of offences committed prior to the clashes that took place and as such the law could have intervened and preserved the peace.

It can be clearly seen that there is nothing lacking in the Police Ordinance as it stands to have prevented and/or handled this situation far better and it is just another incident of the ever frequent occurrence in the enforcement of law and order of what should have been done not being done. Thus the Ministry is best advised to conduct a greater review of why the law as it is, is not implemented as it should be rather than review and revise the law as it.

It is up to the Ministry of Law and Order and the Police to restore faith in the system of Law enforcement and restore sanity to the emerging consensus of the unlawful that one can take one’s own matters into one’s own hands. The Public of Sri Lanka who keep their faith in law and order shall watch and wait and expect nothing more than the law to take its due course. It is heartening to note that the his Excellency the President who is also incidentally in charge of the Ministry of Law and Order has stated that investigations will be held and that those responsible shall be brought to account.  It is right that it should be so and the law abiding public expects nothing less.
Order Gifts to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Vegetables, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

Sell your vehicle & house fast with hitad.lk only cost is Rs.400, Advertise in Hitad.lk for free to sell your mobile phone. Want to sell your Pet, Advertise for Free in hitad.lk Search for Houses in Sri Lanka and find the best place through Hitad.lk find your best tuition place. Find the best partner for you, visit hitad.lk Find anything at any time hitad.lk.

  Comments - 0

Order Gifts to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Vegetables, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

Sell your vehicle & house fast with hitad.lk only cost is Rs.400, Advertise in Hitad.lk for free to sell your mobile phone. Want to sell your Pet, Advertise for Free in hitad.lk Search for Houses in Sri Lanka and find the best place through Hitad.lk find your best tuition place. Find the best partner for you, visit hitad.lk Find anything at any time hitad.lk.


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment




Order Gifts to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Vegetables, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

Sell your vehicle & house fast with hitad.lk only cost is Rs.400, Advertise in Hitad.lk for free to sell your mobile phone. Want to sell your Pet, Advertise for Free in hitad.lk Search for Houses in Sri Lanka and find the best place through Hitad.lk find your best tuition place. Find the best partner for you, visit hitad.lk Find anything at any time hitad.lk.