Who Will Guard the Guards?

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Sri Lanka is unique in that it has a Prime Minister (Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa (MR)) and a Police Department, which flagrantly breaks the law in the heart of Colombo.

This is in the context that at ‘Temple Trees’, (TT) Kollupitiya, the more popular of the two official Colombo residences of the Premier, blares pirith chanting’ 24 hours of the day, breaking all noise pollution laws of the country.

With regard to noise pollution National Environmental (Amendment) Act (No. 56 of 1988)-Sect 7, “Any person who, without a Licence or contrary to any condition, limitation or restriction to which a licence under this Act or any other written law is subject, make or causes or permits to be made or emitted noise that is greater in volume, intensity or quality than the standard, as may be prescribed for the emission of noise, which is tolerable noise in the circumstances, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

(2) Any person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) (No person shall make or emit or cause or permit to be made or emitted noise greater in volume, intensity or quality than the levels prescribed for tolerable noise except under the authority of a licence issued by the Authority under this Act. ) shall on conviction be liable to a fine not less than rupees 10,000 and not exceeding rupees 100,000 and in the case of a continuing offence to a fine of rupees 500 every day in which the offence continues after conviction.”

In the noise pollution case ‘Ashik v Bandula and others’ SC FR 38/2005 9 November 2007, Chief Justice Sarath N Silva said, “It may be appropriate to state some matters  regarding pirith chanting which dates to the time of the Buddha. The chanting of pirith takes place only upon an invitation addressed three times to the Maha Sangha. Chanting follows with compassion to devotees who address the threefold invitation.

Piyadassi Thera, in his work titled ‘The Buddha’s Ancient Path’ has stated,  benefit could be derived only,  ‘by listening intelligently and confidently to paritta sayings because of the power of concentration that comes into being through attending whole-heartedly to the  truth of the sayings.’

 Thus there must necessarily be a close proximity between the person chanting and the person who is listening. Blaring forth sacred suttas and disturbing the stillness of the environment, forcing it on ears of persons who do not invite such chant is the antethesis of the Buddha’s teaching.”

The other offence committed is the illegal parking of Police trucks and buses on the pavement bordering Temple Trees. National Thoroughfares Act No. 2008 says, “Where the foot walk of a road, public road or a national highway is obstructed by the parking of a vehicle, the person responsible  for such parking shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and be liable on conviction after summary trial before a magistrate to a fine not exceeding rupees 5,000 and in the case of a second or subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding rupees 50,000 and in the case of a continuing offence, to a fine of rupees 5,000 for each day in respect of which such offence is continued after conviction.”  

The public also wants to know what action the Police propose to take against the illegal parking of their vehicles on the pavement bordering TT? If they say that this is because of a security threat, MR’s younger brother President and Defence Minister Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in his policy speech, made in Parliament on 18 January 2022 said, “Many have forgotten that the key issue facing the people of this country, when I became the President in 2019, was national security. By now, our Government has secured national security. People have no fear of terrorism today.”

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?-Who will guard the guards?-Juvenal.