ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has filed three fundamental rights petitions in the Supreme Court challenging arrests made under quarantine regulations.
The privately owned NewsFirst network reported that the petitions, filed by SJB MPs Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Harshana Rajapakurna and Mayantha Dissanayake, have named the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of Health Services, the Minster of Health and the Attorney General as respondents.
The submissions were made a day after Sri Lanka police arrested over 40 protestors in Colombo and elsewhere for allegedly violating quarantine regulations, even as government supporters were seen celebrating the swearing in of Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa by lighting firecrackers and gathering in small groups.
A majority of the arrests were made at a protest held near parliament in Sri Jayawrdenapura, Kotte, against the proposed Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) bill.
News footage showed protestors, including older women, being frog-marched into police buses amid shrieks of protest from fellow activsits.
Thirty-one people including Sri Lanka Teachers’ Union General Secretary Joseph Stalin were arrested near the parliament roundabout. The protest was jointly organised by the Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF), the Sri Lanka Teachers’ Union and the Frontline Socialist Party.
The KDU bill, first presented in 2018 under the previous government, has been controversial, with left-leaning opposition parties including the Jantha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) alleging that it will pave the way for militarisation of higher education in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka banned protests and public meetings until further notice on Tuesday (06) to prevent large gatherings and the further spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, United National Party (UNP) leader and national list MP Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament Friday (09) that forcibly sending individuals to quarantine camps is against the law.
Without a PCR test no one can be sent to quarantine, he said, adding that existing laws do not allow for such individuals to be quarantined without reason. (Colombo/July09/2021)