Counsel appearing for the Attorney General on behalf of the Respondent state officials submitted to the Supreme Court that men of standing do not adorn tattoos when the Fundamental Rights application filed by the British tourist who was deported for wearing a Buddha Tattoo was taken up today.
Speaking after the Counsel for the Petitioner made submissions, Jayantha Jayasooriya PC who appeared on behalf of the Respondent government officers made a lengthy submission with regard to the social strata and perception of the people who wear Tattoos.
“You and I, nor any other public servant would not wear a Tattoo. Normal men of standing usually don’t wear Tattoos, and it is in this context that this issue must be understood” he said.
He further pointed out that the Buddha Tattoo worn by Coleman should not be seen in isolation, but together with another Tattoo that the tourist was wearing below the Buddha Tattoo.
“It could have caused tension which is why the officer arrested the lady”.
When the bench pointed out that the prudent course of action would have been to ask the lady to cover the Tattoo, the Counsel for the State submitted that in the event she violates the said instructions there would have been room for tension.
He further drew the attention of the Bench to a previous instance when a tourist was deported for having a Tattoo on his ankle.
The Bench comprising Justice Eva Wanasundera, Saleem Marsoof and Chandra Ekanayake observed that the Tourism authorities should have issued relevant instructions to tourist visiting the country.
However, Jayasooriya said that such was not possible as it was hard to identify Tattoos which could cause hurt or tension to religious feelings or sentiment.
The State Counsel however, informed court that the Negombo Magistrate did not have the authority to issue and order of deportation. Despite this, it was agreed by both parties that the Supreme Court could not contest the validity of the Judgment by the Magistrate in the current action.
Counsel appearing for the Petitioner, J.C Weliamuna outlined the circumstances under which Coleman was arrested. He also said that the Counsel for the state was making moral judgments.
He said that the arrest and detention violated the Fundamental Rights of the Petitioner guaranteed under S11, 12. and 13.
Leave to proceed was granted in Fundamental Rights Application, with objections to be filed in six weeks from today.
The case is to be taken up for argument on December 24th.
Jayantha Jayasuriya PC with Parinda Ranasinghe DSG appeared for the state, while J.C Weliamuna with Pulasthi Hewamanna, Tishya Weragoda, Hafeel Farisz instructed by Vishwa De Livera Tennakoon appeared for the Petitioner.