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Contempt of Court in Kurunthurmalai incident: Archaeological Department official held accountable

In an ongoing legal battle concerning Kurunthurmalai archaeological site, the Mullaitivu Magistrate Court issued a significant judgement on August 31st, 2023. This ruling has highlighted the failure of Archaeological Department officials to adhere to court orders, resulting in the Director General of Archaeology being held in contempt of court.

The court acknowledged that, despite previous court orders previously issued, the construction of the stupa at the temple continued with ceremonial additions, including the dedication of a Buddha statue made from Kabuk clay. 

As a response to these violations, the court ordered the immediate dismantling of all construction carried out after July 14th, 2022. However, on July 19th, 2022, the Attorney General summoned the Mullaitivu MC and has asked him to reconsider the judgement regarding case no. AR/673/18. The Attorney General argued that the judgement could lead to disharmony and unrest among communities.

In light of the Attorney General's request, the Mullaitivu judge conducted two field visits to the Kurunthurmalai site to reinvestigate the case. Civil society groups, political parties, and the general public also visited the site on February 23rd, 2023, to inspect the construction's status. Following this visit, Durairasa Raviharan, former Northern Province Provincial Councillor, submitted photographic evidence of ongoing construction to the Mullaitivu Police Station.

The court, after the field visits, reiterated its previous order that called for all construction at the Kurunthurmalai site to be reverted to its state as seen on July 14th, 2022. The court also requested the Archaeological Department and the police to submit reports and appear as witnesses during the renewed investigations led by the Mullaitivu MC.

The court reconvened on August 31st to deliberate on the matter. During the proceedings, it was revealed that multiple court orders had not been followed, as evidenced by the judge's field visits and photographic evidence submitted to the police.

Consequently, the court declared that construction had continued despite the orders to halt it and return the site to its state as of July 12th, 2022. Holding the Director General of the Archaeological Department accountable, the court found him in contempt for failing to implement its orders.


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