In a significant development regarding the Rambukkana shooting incident, multiple Fundamental Rights (FR) applications have been filed on behalf of the victims. The cases were brought before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, seeking justice and accountability for the tragic events that unfolded.
The FR applications, numbered SC FR 73/2023, SC FR 74/2023, SC FR 75/2023, SC FR 120/2023, and SC FR 121/2023, were filed on behalf of Lalith Devapriya, Sahan Hasitha, Ashen Samaranayaka, Chaminda Rajapaksa & Thilakaratne Bandara, and Buddhika Edirisinghe & Milanga Wickremasuriya, respectively.
On May 24, 2023, these applications were presented before the court for leave to proceed jointly. However, some of the respondents, including SSP Keerthiratne and the three officers involved in the shooting, were absent and unrepresented. The State Counsel informed the court that the Attorney General (AG) would not be appearing for these respondents. Consequently, the court directed that notices be served to them again. The legal team representing the victims has prepared the notices, which will be tendered to the court within the week.
During the proceedings, the AG also submitted limited objections, and the court granted six weeks for the respondents to file their limited objections. The petitioners have been instructed to file counter affidavits within four weeks following the submission of the objections.
The cases have been rescheduled for the next stage, the leave-to-proceed hearing, which is set to take place on August 29, 2023.
In a separate FR application, SC FR 137/2023, filed on behalf of Kaveesh Gunathilaka, who was arrested and assaulted during the Rambukkana protest, a similar procedure was followed. Although the motion to list it alongside the other cases was filed, it was listed in a different courtroom. The AG has agreed to represent only the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Attorney General’s office. As with the other cases, limited objections have been allowed, and the respondents have been given a six-week period to submit their objections, followed by four weeks for the petitioners to file their counter-affidavits.
Despite the absence of some respondents, the court did not issue a direction to serve notice again. However, the legal team representing the victims intends to take the necessary steps to ensure proper notice is served before the next court date.
Furthermore, an application was made in open court to list SC FR 137/2023 alongside SC FR 73/2023, SC FR 74/2023, SC FR 75/2023, SC FR 120/2023, and SC FR 121/2023. The court directed the Registrar to comply with this request, resulting in all cases being fixed for leave to proceed on May 24, 2023.
The victims and their legal representatives hope that the court’s proceedings will shed light on the events surrounding the Rambukkana shooting and provide justice to those affected by the tragic incident.