Wednesday, 5  February 2003  
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Bribery Dept. Inspector files Rs. 10 million damage suit

by Indeewara Thilakarathne

A police officer has filed a Rs 10 million damage suit in the Colombo District Court against the Chairman of the Commission to investigate Bribery or Corruption, challenging the suppression of his post as Chief Investigator Bribery.

The plaintiff W.A. Somaratne, Chief Inspector (intelligence) has cited Chairman of the Bribery Commission, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Nesbet Abeyweera and Kingsley Wickremasuriya as respondents.

Somaratne who filed the case through Attorney Upendra Gunasekara states that he joined the police service in July 6, 1967 and had served in the CID and the Bribery Commission. The respondents are the members of the Commission for the Investigation of the Bribery or Corruption, the first respondent being its Chairman.

He further states that from 1994 to 1998 he served as the Unit Head of the Bribery Commission and also as the OIC (Asset Investigation). Later, after the reactivation of the Bribery Commission in December 1999, the then Director Investigation of the Commission, Peter Gunatilaka had requested the IGP to deploy 6 police officers including Somaratne for investigative work in the Bribery Commission.

Somaratne on the order of the IGP, assumed duties in the Bribery Commission as the OIC of the Investigation Section on May 5, 2000. The said Investigation Unit was established by a police gazette 1954 /05/25 and he was appointed the OIC of the Unit which comprised 90 officers.

The plaintiff's duties included conducting raids, executing Court orders and other administrative work. The plaintiff further claims that he was entrusted with conducting investigations into bribery or corruption by the letter dated May 5,2000 issued by the Commission.

However, by a letter dated January 10, 2003 he was informed that the post of OIC (Investigations) has been abolished forthwith and that all the documents pertaining to investigations, in his possession should be handed over to the Commission and that he should report to the IGP. Somaratne claims that the Commission's suppression of the post of OIC (Investigations) which was created by the police through gazette, was illegal. He claimed that only the IGP can transfer him.

The transfers, appointments and promotions of the police officers were conducted by the Public Service Commission through the sanction of the IGP.Therefore the decision to abolish the post of OIC (Investigation) was ultra vires and malicious. The plaintiff states that his reputation and fame was tarnished by this action.

He pleads the Court that the decision by the Chairman of the Bribery Commission to abolish the post of OIC (Investigation) be declared null and void and the Commission be ordered to pay him Rs. 10 million as damages.

----- Death of Commissioner brings work to halt The Commission investigating allegations of bribery and corruption plunged into a new crisis yesterday with the death of one of its Commissioners T.N Abeyweera. This renders the Commission non-functional in terms of the new Bribery and Corruption law which stipulates that the Commission shall constitute all three members. Political parties in Parliament will now have to appoint the third member as the President ceased to be the appointing authority with the formation of the Constitutional Council under the 17th Amendment. Previously the president had the power to appoint all three members. The new commissioner also has to be a retired Judge of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal. Abeyweera died of natural causes and his funeral is due to take place today.

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