The Supreme Court today granted leave to proceed with the Fundamental Rights petitions filed by four schoolchildren over an incident in which they were forced to give statements to police following the arrest of Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah.
The four petitioners, aged below 14, who were students at the Al-Zuhriya Arabic College at the time, alleged that they were taken into custody by the Criminal Investigations Department and held in detention for over 14 hours.
The petitions alleged that they were allowed to leave the premises of the Criminal Investigations Department only after they were shown a photograph of Hejaaz Hizbullah and forced to identify him as having given lectures at the Al-Zuhriya Arabic College.
The petitioners had cited officers of the Criminal Investigations Department as respondents.
Counsel Farman Cassim, at the outset of the hearing, drew the attention of the court to the objections filed by the officers, where they said that the petitioners were potential witnesses of the Easter Sunday terrorist attack.
He asked the Attorney General if they were relying on the statement today and pointed out to the court that the entire investigation into Hejaaz Hizbullah was a ruse to divert attention.
The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench, comprising Justices Murdu Fernando, A.H.M.D. Nawaz, and Priyantha Fernando, granted leave on all alleged violations of fundamental rights.
Presidents Counsel Geoffrey Alagaratnam, Farman Cassim PC, Counsel Shantha Jayawardena, and Nuwan Bopege appeared for the Petitioners. Senior State Counsel Sajith Bandara appeared for the officers of the Criminal Investigations Department.


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