The Supreme Court today granted leave to proceed with a Fundamental Rights petition filed by a man for detaining him for three days in prison custody, despite the Court of Appeal’s order to release him from the case.

The petitioner, Bandula Sudathsiri Perera, a resident of Homagama, challenged the delay of three days on the part of prison authorities to release him from the prison after the Court of Appeal acquitted him of murder charges.

The Supreme Court three-judge bench, comprising Justices S. Thurairaja, Shiran Goonaratne, and Janak de Silva, granted leave to proceed with the petition in terms of Article 12(1) of the constitution for violating the right to equality before the law.

The petitioner stated he was convicted by Homagama High Court for allegedly committing murder and imposed a death sentence on June 5, 2019. The petitioner said that following the conviction, he was jailed in Welikada prison and subsequently transferred to Agunokolepelessa prison. The petitioner said he filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals against the conviction and sentence. He said the Court of Appeal acquitted him of murder charges and directed the respondents to release him from custody.

The petitioner said the Court of Appeal registrar, on the day of the delivery of the judgement itself, had formally issued the release order to the respondents to release the petitioner from custody. He said his brother came from Homagama to fetch him from Agunokolepelessa prison. The petitioner stated that on February 24, he made inquiries from the Superintendent of Prison in Agunokolepelessa as to why he was not released from the prison, and subsequently, he was informed that he was not acquitted of the case; in fact, his conviction was affirmed. He claimed that the respondents detained him for three days in an unlawful manner, and he was finally released in February 2022.

The petitioner stated that many inmates, once released by the courts, continue to be kept in custody, even for months. He further said the respondents have failed to implement a mechanism to release prisoners immediately after the pronouncement of judgement.

The petitioner maintained that the prison authorities failure to release him constitutes a violation of his right to equality before the law. The petition was fixed for argument on May 27 next year. Counsel Harishke Samaranayake appeared for the petitioner.