Dr Shafi’s arrest triggers FR petition | Sunday Observer

Dr Shafi’s arrest triggers FR petition

The wife of Dr Seigu Siyabdeen Mohammed Shafi is set to file a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition at the Supreme Court consequent to his sudden arrest on May 24 over charges of amassing a large amount of wealth and assets, following a newspaper article that alleged he was involved in sterilizing women without their consent.

Several Fundamental Rights violations, including illegal detention that is a direct abuse of the detention order, and the failure of the police ‘B report’ to show substantial evidence to prove that Dr Shafi a Gynaecologist at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital was guilty of the crimes he has been accused of, would be cited in the FR application.

In a startling article, a Sinhala newspaper charged Dr Shafi of conducting as many as 4,000 sterilizations. Subsequently, Dr Shafi was arrested over a different charge, and authorities took measures to call for public complaints regarding the sterilization allegations against him.

However, no viable evidence has been unearthed to prove the claim, though hundreds of women have come forward to file complaints against the Gynaecologist. An officer who recorded statements at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital told the Sunday Observer that most complaints made by the mothers were of an ‘ambiguous’ nature. “Calling for complaints after the arrest is against the presumption of innocence. It is not due legal process,” Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah said.

He said the action taken against Dr Shafi violates Article 12 - ‘Right to equality’, and Article 13 - ‘freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment, and prohibition of retrospective penal legislation’ of the Constitution.

“Action will also be taken against those who made defamatory statements against Dr Shafi. It amounts to serious unethical conduct by the doctors in the country,” Hizbullah said, adding that action will be taken in an ‘appropriate forum’ against the doctors who had spread misinformation relating to the case.

He said the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has failed to stand by Dr Shafi who was being treated unfairly, thereby revealing a racist campaign behind the incident.