Home Sri Lankan Cases Premalal Perera v Weerasuriya and Others

Supreme Court
Ranasinghe J, Atukorale J, L.H. De Alwis J
Key words
Constitution - Article 10, Article 12(1), Article 14(1)(e), Article 4(d)
Cases referred to
  1. Reynolds v. U.S. , 98 U.S. 145
  2. West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 319 U.S. 624.
  3. Braunfeld v. Brown 366 U.S. 599.
  4. Sherbert v. Verner 374 U.S. 398.
  5. Wisconsin v. Yoder 406 U.S. 205.
  6. Thomas v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division 450 U.S. 707.
  7. Gillette v. United States 401 U.S. 437.
  8. United States v. Seeger 380 U.S. 163.
  9. Welsh v. United States 398 U. S. 333.
  10. Gallagher’s case 366 U.S. 517.
  11. Elmore Perera v. Montague Jayawickreme. Minister of Public Administration et al (1985]1 SLR 285.


R. K. W. Goonesekera with Desmond Fernando. J. Yoosoof and N. Punchihewa for the petitioner.

S. Maharoof, Senior State Counsel for the respondents.

Counsel who appeared
Date of Decision
10th July 1985
Judgement by Name of Judge/s
Ranasinghe J
Noteworthy information relating to the case

FR Application dismissed.

Other information

Premalal Perera v Weerasuriya and Others

S.C Application No. 18 Of 1985

Facts of the case

The petitioner an employee of the Government Railway Department complained that a circular authorising the deduction of a contribution from him to the National Security Fund in the absence of objection by him infringes {1) his Fundamental Right of freedom of thought, conscience and freedom (Article 10, 14(1) (e) of the Constitution) because the money is to be used to buy arms and weapons which will be employed in the destruction of human life and violence which is repugnant to the tenets of the Buddhist faith and belief which he professes and by requiring express objection forces him to make public his opinions with a view to singling him out for and exposing him to harassment and (2) his right to equality {Article 12 (1) of the Constitution) because employees of the Health Department for instance have not been called upon to contribute to the National Security Fund.

Findings related to FoRB

FoRB violation – Conscience (i.e. having or adopting a religion of one’s choice); Discrimination


The Fundamental Right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion is by our Constitution cast in absolute terms and it will have to give way only to any law, written or unwritten, which was in force at the time the Constitution came into operation but only to the extent of any inconsistency as between them.

(2) Beliefs rooted in religion are protected. A religious belief need not be logical, acceptable, consistent or comprehensible in order to be protected. Unless the claim is bizarre and clearly non-religious in motivation, it is not within the judicial function and judicial competence to inquire whether the person seeking protection has correctly perceived the commands of his particular faith. The courts are not the arbiters of scriptural interpretation and should not undertake to dissect religious beliefs.


(3) A regulation neutral on the face of it may in its application nonetheless offend the constitutional requirement if it unduly burdens the full and free exercise of a right.


(4) The necessity to express objection openly to the deduction does not and cannot amount to a violation of the precept of petitioner s religion as asserted in the petition because no penal sanctions or disabilities are prescribed for objectors to the deduction and there was no interference in any way with the full and free practice by the petitioner of his religion.


(5) The material before Court was insufficient to decide whether the right to equality has been violated by the fact that Health Department employees were not called upon to make the contribution to the National Security Fund.