Misappropriation of a Government cheque
The Criminal Investigation Department (C.I.D.) was housed on the
fourth floor of the new Secretariat Building, Fort. This is how the
C.I.D. got the name Fourth Floor. The 5th floor of the same building was
used by the Special Branch of the Police, where they dealt with
“Interpol” and Diplomatic Missions.
has the separate sections like the (i) Homicide Squad (ii) Gang Robbery
Bureau (iii) Frauds Squad. The Frauds Squad was in charge of inspector
Wettasinghe but minor frauds like cashing a cheque for a lesser amount
could be inquired by any other unit, too.
A government cheque (for Rs. 41,775/00) had been encashed by an
unscrupulous person by placing a forged signature. This cheque belonged
to Section (7) the Government Stores, where the goods were normally
supplied to the Railway Department. This building was at Tripoli Market,
more or less opposite the Technical College and by the side of the
Mr. Chelliah Appadorai was in charge of this place and there were two
female clerks namely, Angelina Mathews and Cammilia Roggers, both were
in their early twenties and a male clerk named Anton Ferse and Peon
named Dhanapala, who was in his early thirties. Other employees were
labourers who had no access to the main office or to the cafe.
When certain items of goods were not available in Government Stores,
Appadorai was authorized to quote prices and order goods up to Rs.
50,000/- and pay by Government cheques.
Usually there should be two signatories to Government cheques. They
were the Chief Accountant of Railway and C.Appadorai, Head of Section C,
Ten government Cheque books, with each book containing 25 pages were
given to Section ‘C’ of the Railway under Government Stores. The
Accountant Railway, H.F. Winsrow had already signed cheque leaves and
Appadorai has been instructed to place his signature at the time of
issue of the cheque as the 2nd signatory.
These cheque books had been signed and taken charge by Appadorai.
Cheque books were 27251 to 27275,27276 & 27300 and so on.
In Slave Island, there existed a large reputed water pump factory,
which did business with lots of Government Departments. One day a
telephone call had come to this company and the person who had spoken
had said that it was from Section ‘C’, of Government Stores and had
placed an order for 10 deep well water pumps and 15 ordinary water
pumps. The cost of a deep well pump had been quoted at R. 2,950/- and an
ordinary pump at R. 805/-. The caller had said a cheque for R.
417,775/00’ will be sent and to keep the pumps ready.
About an hour later, the telephone caller had come in a lorry bearing
No.CE 8862, had presented the cheque and under the supervision of
Company security, all 25 water pumps were loaded, invoices signed, and
the lorry left the premises at 12.15 p.m. along with the person who
brought the cheque. the person who came in the lorry had told the driver
that their company vehicle gave engine trouble and went for a minor
repair, and got the water pumps unloaded at the vacant land at Macalum
road/Caplain Gardens kovil Road, junction. the cleaner unloaded the
goods and the driver was given R. 20/- as lorry hire from Slave Island
to Gamini Theatre round-about.
After about another one hour, another lorry came and the twenty five
water pumps were loaded, and this lorry had been hired to go to
Balangoda via Avissawella and Ratnapura. The lorry had been promised R.
275/- as hire. En route to Balangoda, 06 water pumps had been unloaded
at Mansor Stores, at Eheliyagoda. 04 deep well motors and 04 normal
water pumps were given to Ameeras at Ratnapura.
The balance 06 deep well motor pumps and 05 normal water pumps were
given to Saheed & Co., at Balangoda. This person collected all the
monies on delivering goods. The lorry driver was told by the gentleman
who travelled in the lorry that he wants to go to his sister’s at
Balangoda. Paid the lorry hire, and R. 10/- for the driver and cleaner
of the lorry and bade good bye. The driver was so happy he gave his name
and address to this gentleman to contact him if he needed the lorry in
After about one and a half months later, when the bank return came to
Government Stores, Appadorai noticed a cheque had been issued for Rs.
41,775/00 and the signature was his. He was definite that no cheque for
that amount was written during the last month.
He also noticed the cheque leaf is not from the current cheque book
in use but from another book issued to him. He took the relevant book
and found a leaf had been torn from this book. A complaint to the C.I.D.
was made and same had been entertained by Unit (i) of the C.I.D.
I.P.A.M. Seneviratne handed this inquiry to me and he assigned a
sergeant and a constable for inquiry.
The two female clerks appeared to be upset as they had not faced an
incident like this. The another person Anton highly excited and was
avoiding us. Peon Dhanapala was OH hand and taciturn. We could not cast
aspersions on either of them but felt that Anton Perera had a hand in
this affair. His behaviours was ruthless.
We made confidential inquiries about them and found that none had
been spending money lavishly in the last few days.
Appadorai’s voucher for his staff and said that he knew them for the
last three years and said that will not do a thing like this.
We made inquiries from the houses of Anton Perera and Dhanapala but
could not get any alternate comments. Nothing valuable had been bought
by them recently.
We came back to the C.I.D. office and discussed this case with the
O.I.C.Unit (i). He advised us to follow the two males and to keep a tab
on their movements.
One week had already elapsed, and we had no clue whatsoever.
One Friday morning we arrested Dhanapala on his way to work and he
was taken to the C.I.D. and grilled. No information was coming out from
him. He was released around 7.00 P.M. On the following day, we arrested
Anton Perera near the Technical College, and he was taken to the C.I.D.
A constable in civils was put into the same cell and was locked up.
The P.C. was to pretend that he was suspected for a case of robbery,
and in conversation, this P.C. who was put to the cell had told that he
committed a large scale robbery, with five other men, and all are being
questioned separately and he heard the shouts and screaming one of his
gangs last night, and he would have definitely spilled the beans, and he
decided to tell the truth. Anton Perera had told him that he was brought
as a suspect for removing a cheque leaf and encashing it and buying some
goods. The P.C. had advised him it is best to tell the truth otherwise,
by lying it will complicate more.
Around 4.00 P.M. that evening, I took Anton Perera out of the cell
and told him that we now have gone to the bottom of it, and will arrest
all involved in this case. He waited for a while and told me that he
removed the cheque leaf and gave it to his friend Sudath Atukorale, and
did not meet Sudath after this transaction.
I personally recorded a detailed statement of Anton Perera and got
Anton Perera and Sudath Atukorale had been students in a prestigious
school. Sudath is the only child in his family and both his parents are
Principals in two schools. Sudath had been a very intelligent student
who had passed his SSC exam with flying colours. Both of them had been
good friends and had been in the same classes from 6th standard up to
One day Sudath wanted a cheque leaf stolen from an office cheque book
and also to get a document where Anton’s boss had placed his signature.
Anton had complied both requests and Sudath forged the signature of
Appadorai, and he mastered it. He was an expert at it.
Sudath Atukorale had sat for his varsity entrance and was awaiting
results. He had done well in all his subjects. He lived at Sangarille’ -
312 Kandy Road, Kelaniya.
We went to Kelaniya, to the house of Sudath. He was not there. His
parents were very kind, gave us two cups of tea, and sent word for
Sudath who had gone to his neighbouring house. After about half an hour,
Sudath came home and we told him the purpose of our visit, and he was
brought to the C.I.D. Office.
Whatever said and done, Sudath appeared to be an easy going young
man. He admitted that he forged Appadorai’s signature. I asked him how
he forged the signature. He requested me to place my signature in about
12 places on a foolscap paper. He studied my signature for about 10
minutes and copied my signature in that sheet itself. It was so cleverly
done that it took me about 05 minutes to distinguish his signature from
mine. He said he bought 25 water pumps and sold to three agents at
Eheliyagoda, Ratnapura and Balangoda.
On the same day we went to Mansoor Stores at Eheliyagoda and recorded
the shop owner’s statement. He admitted that he bought the water pumps
and all four water pumps were sold for gemming contractors.
At Ratnapura, the owner of Ameer Stores too, admitted that he bought
the deep well pumps and four ordinary pumps from the accused - and 02
well pumps and one ordinary pump was available. Same we collected as
productions. From there we went to Balangoda, Shaheed Brothers and
recovered one deep well pump. Others had been sold out.
All three shop owners in their statements said that accused posed as
a sales representative for the reputed company at Slave Island and the
accused too, admitted.
At the C.I.D. Office we remanded suspect Atukorale for 14 days and
submitted our dossiers to the A.G. for instructions.
After about 03 months time, the A.G. had authorized to charge suspect
Sudath Atukorale to forging the signature and Anton Ferera aiding and
abetting in the commission of this offence and also to charge him for
theft of a cheque leaf.
The parents who heard the plight of Sudath Atukorala, were prepared
to pay compensation to Government Stores but it did not bear fruit. We
filed plaint in J.M.C. Fort under said sections of the Penal Code and
they came up for trial before Magistrate Sirimevan Amarasinghe. He was a
strict Magistrate and the accused persons had retained L.D.S. Gunasekara
and Siva Sittapparam, both of them were the best defence counsels at
that time, and it was not pleasant at all to be cross examined by the
aforesaid two gentlemen.
Inspector Senevirathna informed us that we will be grilled by the
defence counsels and told us to study the case well.
Inspector A.M. Senavirathna was to conduct the case on behalf of the
When the 1st date of trial approached both defence counsels met I.P.
Senevirathna and indicated that they are going to plead guilty to all
charges and showed him the results of Sudath Atukorale who had gained
entrance to the University of Ceylon, and requested him not to damage
the future of Sudath Atukorale.
When this case came up for trial before Magistrate Sirimevan
Amarasinghe the defence counsels addressed the courts, each taking about
20 minutes and said that they are prepared to plead guilty to all
charges and showed the result sheet of the examination relevant to the
University of Ceylon and begged for clemency.
The Magistrate allowed I.P. Senavirathna what he has to say. He said
the facts placed before courts are correct, and he does not propose to
gloom the future of the accused as both of them are still young and have
The parents were prepared to pay for the cheques that had been
misused and also they were prepared to pay the loss caused to two
The Magistrate imprisoned both of them till rising of courts and
asked each to pay Rs. 500/- as Crown costs.
Anton Perera being a government servant lost his job. Sudath
Atukorale passed out of the University and was doing a top job in a
Names of accused had been changed to avoid liability