At a press conference held recently, State Minister for Defense Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon, who was appointed as the Acting Minister of Defense stated that police permission is required six hours prior to holding protests.
The relevant statement made by the Acting Defense Minister is misleading to the public.
The statement made by the Acting Defense Minister, Minister of State for Defense Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon at the press conference is shown below.
“We would like to remind you that there won’t be an issue if you notify the police about any protest and get permission six hours before the protest. No party can be allowed to behave irresponsibly in a manner which disturbs the public by violating the laws laid down for the public order of the country under any circumstances”.
Click here for the full press conference.
Article 14 (1) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka entitles every citizen to (a) freedom of speech and freedom of expression; (b) freedom of peaceful assembly; (c) the right and title to freedom of company.
Thus, informing the police regarding the march is sufficient.
Apart from that, the constitution is the supreme law of the country. The constitution guarantees the right of citizens to protest peacefully.
There is a judgment given by the Supreme Court confirming this right.
“Vivian Gunawardena v Hector Perera and others” is the verdict.
The judgment in the relevant case is as follows.
“According to Section 77 (1) of the Police Ordinance, it is not an offense to hold a march (protest or otherwise) on a public road in an urban area without a valid permit. No license or permission is required for such and only a notice is sufficient”.
In another part of the relevant judgment, it is also stated as follows.
“14 (1) of the constitution. (b) Freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental right granted to all citizens”.
Conclusion: Thus, it can be concluded that the statement made by Acting Defense Minister, State Minister for Defense Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon is misleading. It is not necessary to inform the police or the relevant authorities six hours before holding a protest and obtain permission. Informing about the protest to relevant departments is sufficient.