22 July, 2024


Pramitha Bandara Talking Nonsense: No Permission Necessary For Processions, Only Notice

Acting Minister of Defence Pramitha Bandara, obviously getting too big for his new shoes, is talking nonsense when he says that Police approval should be obtained six hours before holding a protest, legal luminaries have opined.

Vivienne Goonewardene

Bar Association President Saliya Pieris PC points out in a Facebook post that in the 1983 case of Vivienne Goonewardene v. Hector Perera, Justice J.F.A. Soza stated that the absence of a permit did not make the continuance of the procession an offence or any of the processionists liable to arrest. “The petitioner and the others who were with her were well within their rights to ignore the order of Sub-Inspector Ganeshananthan to disperse. I might add that under Article 14(l)(b) of the Constitution the freedom of assembly is a fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens.”

A senior President’s Counsel specializing in fundamental rights told the Colombo Telegraph that section 77(1) of the Police Ordinance originally required that at least six hours’ notice be given to the Police before a procession is taken out or held in a public place in an urban area. Under section 77(3), it is lawful for a Police officer not below the rank of ASP, if he considers it expedient so to do in the interests of public order, to give oral or written directions prohibiting the taking out of any procession or imposing conditions upon its organisers or participants.

In Vivienne Goonewardene’s case, the Supreme Court agreed with Dr. Colvin R. De Silva that no permit or permission was required to take out a procession. Only notice was required, and such notice may even be given orally. The punishment for contravention was a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees and/or imprisonment not exceeding six months. Since the maximum period of imprisonment that could be ordered was less than three years, the offence was not an offence for which a person could be arrested without a warrant. The Supreme Court held that the Sub-Inspector who arrested Vivienne Goonewardene, who was participating in a procession without notice being given, had no authority to order the processionists to disperse. Therefore, the petitioner could not have been arrested for obstructing the Sub-Inspector in the execution of his duties.

In 1984, section 77 was amended by requiring written notice to be given of such a procession at least six hours before taking out a procession and increasing the maximum period of imprisonment to three years, thus making it an offence for which a person can be arrested without a warrant. However, even after the amendment, no prior permission from the Police is required, the President’s Counsel pointed out. The only requirement is for written notice to be given to the officer in charge of the Police station nearest to the place at which the procession is to commence.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    That may be or have been the law.
    But practice can be otherwise. Also the law could have been changed.
    I spotted this on “Obtaining of Procession Permits”:
    Remember that the Sub-Inspector who unlawfully arrested Vivienne Goonewardene was given a promotion by JRJ.
    Longer ago the procession to a rally against caste oppression in 1966 was attacked by the police, and a few targetted persons were brutally assaulted.
    This is serious business, and careful checking is desirable before informing the public.

    • 4

      “Remember that the Sub-Inspector who unlawfully arrested Vivienne Goonewardene was given a promotion by JRJ.”
      As was Anura Bastian, MP for Colombo West, SJ, after threatening voters & polling agents/observers, with his gun on Referendum Day 22 Dec 1982.

      I speak from personal experience.
      He & his thugs chased me & former Senator S. Nadesan from observing the situation in Deal Place, finally shoving his pistol in my face, while police sat looking on in a car parked opposite.

      Later, I met an SLFP polling observers who reported to CRM that he had similarly been chased away. I think it was Gomin Dayasiri.

      Many reports of Bastian’s actions that day, including at Ladies College polling station, appeared in the press, in particular “Forward”.

      Within days JR promoted Bastian to be a Deputy Minister….of Home Guards!

      What terrible politicians we have had!

  • 2

    Toughness begets a greater toughness
    Right now there is a crisis of trust between law enforcement and the public where citizens feel like their rights are being violated by the very people tasked with defending them. Work with kindness to create desired results and restore Forefront of helping to repair the public trust.

  • 0

    The fundamental Rights case of Vivienne Gunawardene brought the true face of JRJ to the spotlight.
    The Supreme Court ruled that Inspector Ganeshananthan violated her Human Rights.
    What did JRJ, A SON OF A Supreme Court Judge do?
    Promoted Inspector G. and set about turning the other way when the Residences of the SC Judges were stoned! He wryly commented that they were exercising their Human Rights! So much for Dharmishta………….

    His personal Lawyer Hon.Neville Samarakoon Q.C. was made CJ. He was eminently suited to be CJ. bUT WHEN HE DISPLAYED HIS FEARLESS INDEPENDENCE, JRJ hauled him up before a Parliamentary select committee in an attempt to Impeach him.
    No way; S.Nadesan Q.C began his arguments before the committee and the attempt fizzled out.

    Do we have the calibre of such men like Samarakoon and Nadesan?
    Of-course there are many like JRJ in our Public life;
    The list, though is long……………

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