The petitioner is a cook employed by Colombo Dockyard Ltd. He complains that the 1st to 8th Respondents have infringed his fundamental rights under Article 13 (1) by reason of his unlawful arrest on 3.6.2002, under Article 11 by torture thereafter whilst in Police custody, and under Article 13 (2) by unlawful detention till 4.6.2002. The 1st to 7th Respondents are Police Officers of the Wattala Police. The 1st Respondent is the Officer in Charge, the 2nd Respondent is the Officer-in-Charge Crimes, the 3rd to 5th Respondents are Sub Inspectors, and the 6th and 7th Respondents ate Constables. The 8th Respondent is the Inspector-General of Police.
The Petitioner's wife and brother also stated that the Petitioner had told them what had happened after arrest; that he had been blindfolded, his hands had been tied, and he had been hung from a beam; that he had been assaulted by the 1st to 7th Respondents and another officer with iron rods and wooden poles for about an hour, despite crying out in pain; that while being beaten he was questioned regarding a murder, of which he knew nothing; that he had then been laid on the floor and his hands burnt with lighted matches, that no statement had been recorded from him; and that later that day he was taken to the 1st Respondent who had told him that they had made a mistake and he would be released the next morning.
The Petitioner was admittedly released from Police custody at about 11.30 am, on 4.6.2002 .
I grant the Petitioner a declaration that his fundamental rights under Article 11, 13 (1) and 13 (2) have been infringed by the 1st , 3rd , 6th and 7th Respondents, and award him a sum of Rs. 800,000 as compensation and costs (excluding medical expenses) , payable on or before 30.06.2003. Of that sum, the 1st Respondent will personally pay Rs. 70,000, the 3rd Respondent Rs. 40,000, the 6th Respondent Rs. 20,000 and the 7th Respondent Rs. 20,000, and the State will pay Rs. 650,000.
The Petitioner also claimed reimbursement of medical expenses incurred at Nawaloka Hospital. Learned Counsel for the 1st , 3rd ,6th and 7th Respondents contended that the Nawaloka charges were exorbitant and that the Petitioner could have sought treatment at a State hospital. The evidence is that the Petitioner's wife and brother did not rush to Nawaloka in the first instance, but were content to go to the Wickramarachchi Ayurvedic Hospital, and that it was in consequence of medical advice then received that they brought him to Nawaloka. However good the standard of treatment in State hospitals may be, there is no doubt that many Sri Lankans do opt for treatment in private hospitals-sometimes in the belief that treatment and care is better, and something because of fears in regard to delays, over crowding, strikes, shortages of equipment and drugs, etc.. Citizens have the right to choose between State and private medical care, and in the circumstances the Petitioner's wife's choice of the latter was not unreasonable-and was probably motivated by nothing other than the desire to save his life. Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights recognizes the rights of everyone "to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."