Anulawathi’s case: Kasbewa MC ordered the Government analyst report 54 times

by Harshi C. Perera

(December 17, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) One day Anulawathi went to the police station because her husband was arrested. She spoke to the policemen in a challenging manner so they threatened to investigate and press charges against her as well. The police then filed a B report before the court, parts of which are discussed below.

On September 16, 2008, the police team headed by the Sub Inspector of Piliyandala police station, Sujith Silva, found a suspicious woman in Nivanthidiya who had in her possession 20 packets of heroin each containing 30mg of the illegal narcotic. While interrogating the woman, the police found out that she was Nakathdurage Anulawathi, a resident of No 10, School lane, Piliyandala. (B report)

The police produced Anulawathi before the Kasbewa Magistrate Court on September 17, 2008. The court ordered her into remand until September 29, 2008. The case was the postponed from September 29, 2008 to December 15, 2008 to await the production of fundamental evidence. On December 15, 2008 the fundamental evidence was filed with the court.

On the same day, the court ordered the prosecution to produce the Government Analyst Report. The prosecution, however, failed to produce the report as requested. The court was forced to order the production of the report continually for the next 34 months, a total of 54 times, but still the Government Analyst Report was not produced. Because of this horrible delay, Anulawathi languished in remand prison. This was a punishment given to Anulawathi by the Government Analyst.

On October 29, 2010, the Kasbewa Magistrate Court at long last received the Government Analyst Report. The police had charged Anulawathi with possession of 600mg of heroin in 20 separate packets, but the Government Analyst Report revealed that ten of the packets contained no heroin whatsoever. The other ten packets contained on trace amounts of heroin, not even enough for the Government Analysis to properly weigh its contents. Despite the report showing only a tiny amount of heroin in her possession, the court asked Anulawathi to plead either innocent or guilty for the possession of 600mg of heroin as originally charged by the police. She pled guilty and was fined Rs.5000/=.

Why did Anulawathi plead guilty to the fabricated police charges? The main reason was poverty – she simply could not afford to keep fighting the charges. By pleading innocent, the prosecution would continue. Bail would cost a considerable amount of money. Hiring a lawyer to defend her would cost even more money, and Anulawathi was unable to find a pro bono lawyer. In addition to money concerns, Anulawathi could not stand to remain in prison any longer. From personal experience, she is well aware of how badly the court system can be delayed and she could no longer bear the financial and emotional burden of going to the court.

The case of Anulawathi is very troubling. Because of the delays, many of the court officers and prison guards were able to earn extra money continually holding additional hearings for her despite no actual progress in the prosecution of her case. The face that others profited by the government delays and Anulawathi’s extended detention were an unjust affront to both her and her family.

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