Buddhist monk gets driving licence

by Wasantha Ramanayake, Lanka Daily News, Oct 23, 2004

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Court of Appeal yesterday issued notice on the Commissioner of Motor Traffic in the writ application compelling the commissioner to issue a driving licence to a Buddhist monk.

Petitioner Ven. Dr. Paragoda Wimalawansa Thera, chief incumbent of Sri Sakyamuni Viharaya, Waskaduwa cited the Commissioner of Motor Traffic as the respondent.

The Bench comprised Justices Saleem Marsoof PC and S. Sriskandarajah. Thera's Counsel Saliya Pieris submitted that the Motor Traffic Commissioner had refused to issue the Thera with a driving licence although he had fulfilled the required criteria to obtain same.

The counsel submitted that the commissioner rejected the Thera's application on the recommendations of a Buddhist organisation. The counsel submitted that the refusal of the Commissioner was illegal.

According to the counsel, the Thera is a teacher attached to the Moratuwa Maha Vidyalaya and his salary was not sufficient to obtain the service of a driver.

The counsel argued that the use of a vehicle was a must for the Thera to engage in the day-to-day social and religious activities.

Saliya Pieris instructed by Athula de Silva appeared for the Thera.

The notice would be returnable on November 25.