Saturday, 25 January 2020 09:27

Dr. Shafi contests arrest and detention: SC fixes for support on 24 June

The Supreme Court yesterday re-fixed for 24 June for granting of Leave to Proceed in respect of the Fundamental Rights petition filed on behalf of Doctor Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen (42) of Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.

The Bench comprised Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya and Justices L.T.B. Dehideniya and P. Padman Surasena.

Counsel Faisz Musthapha PC informed Court that some of the Respondents ceased to hold office and sought time to amend the caption. Court granted time to do the same.

Dr. Shafi, accused of allegedly sterilising women, yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights petition against his arrest and detention at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

The petitioner in his petition filed through his Attorney-at-Law Rushdie Habeeb claims that his arrest had taken place as a result of “jealousy” over a purchase of three land slots worth Rs. 130 million in Kurunegala. These lands had been jointly purchased by three persons including him, he states. He denies allegations of sterilising women since it has not been supported by clinical evidence.

He seeks an Order from the Court to quash the detention order issued against him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). He is seeking an interim order as well on his detention at the CID.

He cited Defence Secretary Yasantha Kodagoda, Attorney General Dappula de Livera, Acting IGP C. Wickremaratne, Kurunegala OIC (Crimes) Pushpalal, the Kurunegala OIC, Kurunegala DIG Kithsiri Jayalath, and CID Director Shani Abeyasekara as respondents.

Faisz Musthapha PC with Razeed Zarook PC, Faiza Markar and Hejaz Hisbullah appeared for Dr. Shafi.

The Petition states that Dr. Shihabdeen contested as a candidate of the United National Party at the General Elections of 2015 and secured 54,000 preferential votes and was placed eighth in the list of candidates on the basis of preferential votes received but was not elected as a Member of Parliament as the United National Party had obtained only seven seats in the Kurunegala District.

It states after failing to secure a seat in Parliament Dr. Shihabdeen returned to Government service and based on an appeal made by him he was appointed in August 2016 as a Medical Officer, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Base Hospital, Dambulla and thereafter in February 2017 was transferred to the Teaching Hospital, Kurunegala as a Senior House Officer, Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

The Petition states that Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen and three other persons in their individual capacity purchased the land at Kurunegala.

The Petitioner claims that the purchase of the said land and premises caused jealousy and the perception that Dr. Shihabdeen had amassed wealth and that could have contributed to his illegal arrest.

Petition claims that Dr. Shihabdeen’s contribution towards the purchase consideration was paid by monies earned from his savings from his salary, earnings from his private practice and other declared income sources.

On 22 May 2019 the 1st Respondent reported to the Kurunegala Magistrate that a Muslim doctor serving in the Teaching Hospital, Kurunegala was assisting Muslim extremist groups having links with ISIS terrorists.

The Petition states that thereafter the 1st Respondent had conducted ‘investigations’ and had purportedly received ‘intelligence information’ that the unidentified doctor was causing harm to the fallopian tubes of Sinhalese women when performing caesarean operations and thereby reducing the functionality of the said organs, which in turn resulted in those women becoming infertile.

The Petition alleges that the statements that ‘investigations’ were being conducted or have been conducted are totally false.

The Petitioner states that Dr. Shihabdeen has never been a member of, involved with, connected to or assisted any terrorist group and in particular the National Thowheedh Jamaath or any group or person linked with ISIS.

The Petition states that after the Easter Sunday attacks and before 23 May 2019, Dr. Shihabdeen’s house and Goldmed Diagnostics and Laboratories Ltd. had been searched by the Police on three separate occasions and no allegations of criminal and/or terrorist activity were made out or put forward.

The Petition states that towards the end of April, Police officers from the Kurunegala Police Station visited Dr. Shihabdeen’s residence and as Dr. Shihabdeen and his wife Dr. M.N.F. Imara were not at home they had questioned their daughter about visitors to the house and left the premises.

The Petition states the allegation that Dr. Shihabdeen had surreptitiously performed sterilisations on Sinhalese women whilst doing caesarean operations was baseless, frivolous and unsupported by any clinical evidence and had been made out maliciously to tarnish his image and cause disrepute to him professionally and personally.

The Petition states further that a caesarean was done in the operating theatre in the presence of at least six other persons and maintains the allegation of surreptitiousness is absurd in these circumstances. The Petition states that Respondents have acted maliciously, arbitrarily and illegally in arresting and detaining Dr. Shihabdeen.

(FT)

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