Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) today filed three Fundamental Rights petitions in the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that attempts by police to prevent protests using quarantine guidelines violate people’s fundamental rights.

These petitioners are SJB General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara, parliamentarians Harshana Rajakaruna and Mayantha Dissanayake.

The respondents cited by the petitioners are IGP Chandana Wickremaratne, Director General of Health Services Asela Gunawardena, Health Minister Pavithra Devi Wanniaarachi and Attorney General.

The Petitioners state that the law relating to preventive measures of pandemic diseases is contained in the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance No.3 of 1897 (as amended).

According to the petitioners that on or around 2020 the Coronavirus Disease 2019 was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and on or around March 2020, Covid-19 was identified in Sri Lanka.

The Petitioners state that by Gazette (Extraordinary) bearing No. 2167/18 dated 20.03.2020 issued by the Health Minister under the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance No.3 of 1897 (as amended), Covid-19 was declared as a quarantinable disease.

The Petitioners state that in the recent past there have been frequent public protests around the country against the rising cost of living, the interference with the judiciary, the Port City Bill and the ban on chemical fertilizer. The Petitioners further state that these protests and agitations are occurring right throughout the country.


The petitioners state that they have been made aware of a letter dated 6.7.2021 bearing the number PMD/PR/845/21 titled “Conducting various protests by creating a health hazard” issued by the Police Media Division to all media entities, concerning a letter bearing No. DDG(PHS)1/DO2/7/13/2017/20 of the Director-General of Health Services informing the following;

  1. There is a high possibility of the risk of spread of the Covid-19 virus by large public gatherings such as protests;
  2. Therefore the general public ought to refrain from having large public gatherings and protests until further notice;
  3. That the Sri Lanka Police will take action in view of purported “quarantine order”.

The Petitioners further said the only regulation issued and gazetted by the Minister of Health with regards to “public places” is that persons wear a face mask at all times and maintain social distancing of not less than one meter.

The Petitioners pleads that the press release refers to guidelines issued by the Director-General of Health Services which are illegal, unlawful, and discriminatory and infringes the fundamental rights of the petitioners and the public. The petitioners argued that the Director-General of Health Services does not have the right to issue such guidelines on the conditions to be adhered to in public places.

The Petitioners further stated the highhanded actions of the police are unlawful and illegal by violating the Fundamental Rights of the citizenry.


The petitioners are seeking a declaration that the Petitioners’ fundamental rights under Articles 12(1), 13, 14(1)(a), 14(1)(b) and 14(1)(c) guaranteed under the Constitution have been infringed by the respondents.


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