Photographic equipment damaged by police
State to pay 75% as damages

by Chitra Weerarathne
The Deputy Solicitor General, Palitha Fernando, on Monday gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court that the state will pay damages to the photographers whose photographic equipment were damaged by police assault, on July 15, 1999, in Colombo.

The petitioner photographers had complained that they were taking photographs of the UNP protest march, calling to abolish the executive presidency, when they had been assaulted by police officers on duty.

The DSG said that the state is agreeable to grant seventy five percent of the damages, claimed by the photographers.

Mr. Fernando appeared for the Attorney General. He is the second respondent in the fundamental rights violation pleas filed by six photojournalists. They had alleged arbitrary treatment, brutal assault, denial of the right to peaceful assembly and a denial of the freedom of expression, by the Police Department.

The petitioner photojournalists are Asoka Fernando of the ‘Sunday Leader’ newspaper, who had claimed damages to equipment in Rs. 97,000/-, Lakmal Spencer of the ‘Sunday Leader’, claiming damages in Rs. 115,500/-, Janapriya Samaradiwakara of the ‘Yukthiya’ claiming Rs. 87,000/-, Ajith Seneviratne of the ‘Ravaya’, who is yet to submit a quotation, Sunjeewa Chinthaka of the ‘Sunday Times’ who is yet to quote and M. A. Pushpakumara of Vijaya Publications, who is also yet to quote.

The petitioners who have not yet quoted were given time till November 29, to quote a figure for damages.

The others will receive 75 percent of the amount quoted, before November 29.

The case will be called again on November 29, A. S. M. Perera P.C., Upul Jayasuriya, Ronald Perera and J. C. Weliamuna were among the counsel who appeared for the petitioners.

The Bench comprised, Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justice P. Edussuriya and Justice J. A. N. de Silva.