By Raisa Wickrematunge
is an oft-repeated saying, “A man’s home is his castle.”
Small wonder then, that property disputes often turn
vicious. What makes this dispute special is that both
parties could be said to have the long arm of the law on
Subashini Ranasinghe is the Human Resources Manager at
HSBC Securities Services. She is a war widow. Her
husband, Col. Priyantha Ranasinghe, was killed in
Vavuniya in March 1998. The complainant was none other
than DIG Nimal Lewke.
property central to this disagreement is located in
Rajamalwatte Road, Battaramulla.
saga began on April 9, when Lewke’s wife phoned
Ranasinghe, requesting that Ranasinghe stop construction
work on her house, which was next door to Lewke’s.
thing led to another and Nimal Lewke filed action
against Ranasinghe. The case was brought on two grounds,
according to Ranasinghe. One was that Ranasinghe’s home
was leaning on Lewke’s, resulting in cracks in the DIG’s
residence. The second was that Lewke’s best view and
ventilation were blocked by a wall constructed by
Ranasinghe however claims that she had every right to
construct the house the way she pleased on her own
property. “The UDA, Pradeshiya Sabha and Parliament are
on my side. I have all the documentation showing I own
this land,” Ranasinghe said.
battle in court ensued, with Ranasinghe having to stop
work at her house on several occasions, as Lewke claimed
the construction was illegal.
Disturbingly, Ranasinghe alleges that Lewke is harassing
her. On July 3, she claims he came onto the building
site and threatened the workmen on her property. “When
the workmen said they had permission to build, he said
‘Don’t think I’m a pansy. I’ll bring this house down.’”
Ranasinghe said of the incident.
added that on two occasions the workmen had been taken
to the Talangama police station, for no apparent reason.
On July 8, Ranasinghe wrote a letter of complaint to IGP
Wickremaratne, and made a police entry. “Wickremaratne
said he would look into the matter. However to date no
action was taken,” Ranasinghe said.
was Lewke’s alleged act of intimidation on the date of
the 3rd hearing which made Ranasinghe fear for her
personal safety. “He came to courts with 12 bodyguards,
in three trucks full of arms,” Ranasinghe said. She
added that Lewke had subsequently written a letter to
the Army Commander saying she was using Army SUVs when
appearing at court and abusing her position as a war
widow. “Why did he come to court with bodyguards on this
occasion? Now I fear for my life, and for my children,”
However, Lewke strongly refuted Ranasinghe’s
allegations. “I have never threatened anyone. What would
I gain from threatening workmen?” Lewke questioned. He
asked to see the police statement, and declared, “Ask
those workmen if they have ever met Nimal Lewke.” He was
outraged, saying “These allegations are absurd. I have
taken legal action from day one.”
Interestingly, Lewke also accused Ranasinghe of
harassment. “My wife is sick, and even yesterday she was
crying to me asking what we have done to deserve this,”
Lewke lamented. What’s more, Lewke said that it was
Ranasinghe, not him, who was indulging in acts of
intimidation. “She is going around behind prominent
parliamentarians and now she is going to the media. This
third class widow is trying to take the law into her own
hands,” Lewke said.
also alleged that Ranasinghe was using army escorts for
court hearings. “I have never used power to achieve my
own ends. At all the court appearances, I went as a
civilian. Now she is trying to spoil my name,” Lewke
charged. He alleged that Ranasinghe was pulling strings
and recruiting politicians and others to intimidate the
Kaduwela police. “She has hammered a wall right across
my building. I invite anyone to go to the building site
and see what she has done to my house,” Lewke
case is currently being heard at the Kaduwela Magistrate
Court, case number 72918. Each party is as vociferous in
casting blame as the other. Allegations of harassment
and abuse of power are being made on both sides. Each is
just as convinced that they are in the right. So who
will prevail? It appears that this difficult decision
can only be solved by a skilful judge.