Former UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake who was arrested for violating curfew without a proper pass, was released on bail by the Nugegoda Magistrate’s Court yesterday after his lawyer President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran argued in court that the curfew imposed islandwide to keep people at home had been illegally imposed.
Police said Ramanayake was arrested because he did not have curfew passes. It was illegal even for Police to tell people they do not have a curfew pass, the senior lawyer appearing for Ramanayake noted.
“There is no curfew in this country according to law. The reason we all abide by this curfew is because of the current situation in the country,” Sumanthiran said outside the Magistrate’s Court on Monday. The senior lawyer however urged the people to abide by the curfew despite its shaky legal basis, because staying at home was the best way to curb the spread of the corona virus.
Former TNA MP PC MA Sumanthiran appeared for Ranjan Ramanayake in Nugegoda Magistrate today where he argued that no lawful curfew has been imposed in Sri Lanka.
“Ranjan Ramanayake was granted bail, Police tried to say they didn’t have curfew passes, but we highlighted that there is no lawful curfew imposed in the country. Because of the situation everyone should follow it but it’s not lawful” MA Sumanthiran told media after the case.
The Nugegoda Magistrate having heard Sumanthiran PC’s submissions released Ramanayake on bail.
Ramanayake was arrested when he was distributing essential rations to low income families in the Madiwela area.
The Government is committing a grave offence by declaring curfew through press releases, Sumanthiran noted. “There are legal provisions under which curfew can be declared. Instead of imposing it lawfully through those provisions, the Government is imposing curfew through media releases” he told reporters outside the court room. “This is an illegal act,” he added.
However over 10,000 persons have already been arrested around Sri Lanka for violating “curfew”. Questions now loom about their fate after Ramanayake’s release on the basis that the curfew was illegal..
There are provisions under the laws governing public health and quarantine issues to declare curfew while curfew could also be declared under the Public Security Ordinance even without declaring a state of emergency, and the Government had the option of using any of these laws, Sumanthiran noted.
However Colombo Telegraph learns that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is avoiding the declaration of a state of emergency in the country because that would automatically revive the Parliament he dissolved in March.
Constitutional deadlock looms over the date of elections now declared as June 20, nearly three weeks after the constitutional deadline for how long the country can function without a Parliament expires.