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Introduction - Grama Niladhari Service

The Grama Niladhari Service (GNS) is the backbone of the village based administrative system in Sri Lanka.

There are 14015 Grama Niladhari Divisions islandwide and the GNs in-charge of the Divisions are entrusted with multifaceted duties, responsibilities under as many as 46 legislative enactments of Sri Lanka. They range from the Forest Ordinance of 1907 to the Tsunami (Special Provisions Act) No. 16 of 2005.

Grama Niladharis though entrusted with wide ranging responsibilities at the village level have become a target of unfair criticism.

During the 2004 tsunami, GNs in coastal divisions worked with great sacrifice to save lives (3 of them perished in the tsunami) but within months of the tsunami they bear the brunt of criticisms when called upon to answer difficult questions of identifying compensation and rehabilitation assistance.

The senior officials find it convenient to pass all blame for corruption to this village level officials who have never received systematic training in these new responsibilities. The History of GNs is partly responsible for this pathetic situation.

Even though a GN performs the function assigned under number of legislative enactments, their service has never been recognized under a relevant services enactment. In 1963 the GN Service was created by a Cabinet Paper and a Gazette Notification and at different years 1985, 1987 and 1988.

Agricultural Extension Officers, Cultivation Officers and Special Services Officers were added to the GN Service by Cabinet Papers.

It is imperative that the Government should enact a comprehensive Grama Niladhari Services law without further delay. The GNs as peace officers under the Primary Courts Ordinance have to maintain law and order in their divisions.

He is responsible for statutorily allocated functions and social service and developmental activities at village level.

If the village leader is not properly trained and afforded legal recognition, the villages will be adversely affected. This will spread to the Divisions, Districts and in the entire island.

(SSW)

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Protect victims of crime, then crimes will decrease -S.S. Wijeratne

Addressing over six hundred Grama Niladharis in Hambantota and Moneragala, Legal Aid Commission Chairman S.S. Wijeratne stated that 96% criminals never get punished in Sri Lanka mainly due to absence of evidence of witnesses who are mostly victims of crimes and unless victims protection legislation are enacted without further delay, law and order in our country will collapse completely

The LAC Chairman, further said over 68 countries have enacted Crime Victims Protection Legislation since the 1985 UN Declaration on Protection of Victims.

Sri Lanka has failed to enact legislation despite a demand for such legislation by the "National Centre for Victims of Crime" (NCVC), which is chaired by the Chief Justice and in which Attorney-General, Secretary,

Ministry of Justice, Leaders of Bar and Eminent Forensic and Legal Experts are members. The National Law Commission approved a draft legislation in 2003 but a few bureaucrats in the Ministry of Justice have been dragging their feet.According to police records over 52,000 major crimes were committed in 2005.

These figures are bound to increase as the apprehension and conviction rate is only 4% which is the lowest in the world. With this dismal situation, it is not surprising that foreign direct investors go to more secure countries and educated young Sri Lankans are seeking greener pastures in secure countries.

The District Secretary, Hambantota expressed that in his experience, most of the victims are afraid to come to give evidence as they fear for their safety and the long delay in concluding cases.

NCVC Director Ramani Thotagamuwa said that the Sri Lanka Criminal Justice system should be amended to provide free legal assistance to victims as at now only the accused is provided State legal aid in High Court trials which is a travesty of justice. Until such time LAC Centres islandwide would appear for victims of crime.

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Questions and Answers

Caveat

Question

I would be very pleased if you will

please clarify the following:-

(a) Why is a caveat filed?

(b) The validity of a caveat?

(c) Can a person file action against a person who has filed a false caveat?

(d) What are the advantages and disadvantages of a caveat?

(e) How to file a caveat?

A. Raheem, Gampola.

Answer

(a) The reason for filing caveat.

If there is any land dispute between two parties, either party can file caveat since one party can convey his rights to the third party without knowledge to the other party.

If there is caveat the register of land will bound to inform to the party who was filed the caveat.

(b) The validity of caveat

If there is any caveat registered in the land registry where the disputed land is situated and after the caveat if any deed regarding the land is received by the Registrar of Land, he is bound to inform it the party who has filed the caveat.

Then the interested party can take steps to file legal action.

A person can file action against a person who has filed a false caveat.

(c)Yes, if the particular party is not entitled any part of the disputed land or if he is not the legal owner of the said property.

No one can file a caveat before the land registry falsely since that particular person is preventing other parties legal rights.

Therefore the aggrieved party has right to file action and claim damages.

The advantages of filing a caveat

(d) If there is a caveat before the land registry the interested party would come to know there is another deed going to be registered.

Therefor that party can take legal action. This is the advantages of filing a caveat.

The disadvantages of filing a caveat

(d) The party has registered caveat in the land registry without any ownership or legal rights.

Then other party can file legal action on that basis.

The way to file a caveat

(e) If there is a dispute regarding a land, any person can file a caveat before the land registry where the dispute land is situated. It can be tendered to the land registry personally or through a notary public.

Anyhow that it has to be mentioned time period as an example for the month, one year or two years.

In your caveat you have to include all the details of the land such as parties' names and addresses, the format as at follows. If necessary without notary you also can fill the format accordingly and file before the land registry where the land is situated.

The format of the caveat

Caveat

Registrar of Lands, Land Registry.

...........

Take Notice that I (full Name and address of the Caveator), require to be served with notice of the presentation for registration of any instrument affecting the land morefully described in the schedule hereto.

This Caveat is to remain in force for a period of .... And I appoint (address where the notice should be served) as the place at which notices relating hereto should be sent.

THE SCHEDULE ABOVE REFERRED TO

(The entire schedule should be stated together with the Volumes/Folios)

Date....... ...................

Signature of Caveator or his Agent

Signed by the above named (name of Caveator or Agent) in the presence of (Name and address of 1st witness) and (name and address of 2nd witness).

1. Signature of 1st witness.........

2. Signature of 2nd witness.........

Servitude

Question:

In 1975 I built a house on the plot of land acquired by a Deed of Transfer from my brother. The Deed specifies the boundaries of the block of land. Access to the property was by a driveway through his portion of the land.

The house that was built by me had been given on rent from the date it was completed. He had no objection to the use of this access driveway. Now I am trying to sell my portion of the property. He says he cannot allow access to my property through the driveway that is on his part of the property.

Can be do this now although it has been in use from 1975 up to now?

Deva, Nawala.

Answer:

According to your letter you have been using the access to the property by a driveway from 1975 up to date. Therefore, you have a servitude or right of way and therefore you can claim prescription of the said servitude.

Contract

Question:

I gave a contract to build a house in my own land situated at Kegalle three years ago. The Construction Company is situated in Colombo which gives a 5 year guarantee. The Agreement was signed in Colombo.

Anyhow the actual construction work is carried out at Kegalle. If a dispute occurs between the builder and the land owner, to which court should the land owner go to take legal action against the builder. Is it Kegalle or Colombo?

Rodrigo, Kegalle.

Answer:

According to your letter you have given a building contract to a Construction Company situated at Colombo and also you have signed the Agreement at Colombo and the construction site is at Kegalle. If there is any breach of contract the jurisdiction goes to the court where the Agreement was signed.

Therefore if you want to file action against such a Construction Company you have to file action in the District Court of Colombo within six years of the date of contract if it is a written one. If it is an oral contract, you have to file action within three years of violation of the contract.

Wrongful confinement

Question:

I am a tenant of a part of a house. The Landlord has fallen out with me and he locks the gate at 9 p.m. and opens it at 8 a.m. the next morning to harass me. He does not give me a key thus preventing me from going out and coming in during the said hours.

I have made a complaint to the local Police. An inquiry was fixed and parties were notified to be present.The Landlord is related to a very high official in an important State Department.

Through this high official's influence he has avoided attending the Police inquiry at the Station, instead had got the police to visit him at his residence and conduct an 'inquiry - interview' after which the police officer conveyed the message of the landlord that he will not give me a key and the gate will be closed during the said hours.

Since this was not an inquiry according to the procedure where an inquiry must be in the presence of all parties, I protested to the OIC and demanded a fresh and proper inquiry. Although 3 consecutive dates were fixed for fresh inquiry, the Landlord using the influence of the Police high-ups had failed to appear! I continue to be subject to wrongful confinement.

Please advise me of my legal remedy.

L. L. Jayasuriya, Moratuwa.

Answer:

If the police has not taken any steps or action, you can make a petition to the Inspector General of Police. If the value of the property is below than Rs. 25,000, you have to make an application to the Mediation Board.

If both parties are unable to reach a settlement before the Mediation Board, you can get a 'non settlement certificate from the Mediation Board.

Then you are entitled to file a civil case before a District Court and you can get a declaration from the District Court that you are entitled to get the Keys of the related house and other benefits that you mention in your petition.

If the rented house is valued over 25,000, there is no need to refer it to the Mediation Board. You can directly file action before the District Court. Another remedy available to you is to make a complain to the Rent Board in your area.

To quash an acquisition order

Question:

Could you please explain to me as to how to get an order from the Court of Appeal to quash an acquisition order in case the State has been neglected or disregarded to carry out such an order according to the Gazette Notification?

Is there any mechanism in which I should go through such as filling in forms etc, to that effect?

Does one need to retain a lawyer to get it done?

R. M. Ajith Karunarathna, Galgamuwa.

Answer:

You can file a Writ Application to get a Writ of Mandamus from the Court of Appeal. But you have to file your application within the reasonable time. According to your letter you have not mentioned the time period. Anyhow this is a discretionary power vested to the Court of Appeal. Therefore, representation of the lawyer is more important.

Elderly child can get maintenance from parents

Question:

I am a Medical student at the Ragama Medical Faculty. My parents have neglected to pay my expenses for my living and studies. I am not in receipt of Bursaries/Mahapola Funds either. Is there any remedy in Law?

Undergraduate, Medical Faculty, Ragama.

Answer:

Under the amendment to the Maintenance Ordinance introduced in 1999. The parents are responsible to maintain the 'adult child' (Sons or daughters between 18-25 years of age whether they are in wedlock or out of wedlock or adopted).

In this regard you can make a compliant to the Magistrate's Court for a maintenance order. The Magistrate may give an order to make payments after considering your expenses, your parents income and other fix assets.

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Please write to us

Every citizen should have a knowledge of the laws of the country. What the Legal Aid page of the LAC does is to give a basic awareness about day-to-day Legal matters and problems. Accordingly questions about any legal problems that affect you and also any comments on your Legal Aid page are most welcome.

The answers to questions are the legal views of individual lawyers and the Legal Aid Commission only compiled them for the Daily News Legal Aid Page.

Send your questions and views to.

Daily News Legal Aid Page, Chairman, Legal Aid Commission

No. 129, Hulftsdorp Street, Colombo 12.

[email protected]

Legal Aid Commission centers in Sri Lanka

No Centre Officer in Charge Address/T.P.

01. LAC Head- Justice Hector Yapa Legal Aid Commission -quarters Director General No. 129, Hulftsdorp, High Court Complex, Ms. Nelum Gamage Colombo 12. Director/ Consultant 2433618, 5335281

02. Tsunami Regional Ms. M.S.M.M.Piyumi Kumari 211, Superior Court Centre A.A.L. - Coordinator Complex, Hulftdorp, Colombo 12. 034-5628860

03. Welikada Prison Ms. Thushari Karunasinghe Welikada Prison A.A.L. - Coordinator Welikada, 5335329

New Centres Established by LAC in 2006

04. Bandarawela Ms. Anoma Atalugama Court Complex, A.A.L. - Legal Officer Bandarawela.

05. Matale Mr. Jaliya Gooneratne Court Complex, A.A.L. - Legal Officer Matale.

06. Avissavella Ms. Hiranthi Liyanage Court Complex, A.A.L. - Legal Officer Avissavella.

07. Ratnapura Ms. R.M.I.R. Rajapakshe Court Complex, A.A.L. - Director Ratnapura.

08. Negombo Ms. Swarna Perera Court Complex, A.A.L. - Director Negombo. 031-2222221

09 .Kalutara Mrs. Pavithra Sajeewani Coordinator,Legal Officer,Kalutara Courts Complex 09115624693

10. Gampaha Mr. Vass Gunewardene Director,Sanasa Complex, Gampaha

Centres established by LAC before 2006

11. Anuradhapura D.P.B. Mahadiulwewa Court Complex A.A.L. - Regional Director Anuradhapura 025-2224465

12. Kandy Mr. U.R.N. Ranathunga New Court Complex, A.A.L. - Regional Director Gatambe, Peradeniya 081-2388978

13. Kurunegala D. V. Senevirathne Court Complex A.A.L. - Regional Director Kurunegala 037-2229641

14. Galle Mr. W.A. Palihapitiya Court Complex A.A.L. Fort, Galle 091-2226124

15. Hambantota Ms. Lakshmi Wijenayake Chief Ministers A.A.L. - Regional Director Office Complex Hambantota. 047-2221092

16. Nuwara Eliya Ms. Thamara Damayanthi Court Complex A.A.L. - Legal Officer Nuwara Eliya 052-2235260

17. Moneragala Ms. Shanthi Jayasingha Court Complex A.A.L. - Legal Officer Moneragala. 055-2276191

18. Ampara Ms. Chanchala Dhanushi Court Complex A.A.L. - Legal Officer Ampara. 063-2223496

19. Kegalle Ms. S. Senanayaka Court Complex A.A.L. - Legal Officer Kegalle. 035-223179

20. Chilaw Pradeep Shanthappriya Court Complex A.A.L. - Legal Officer Chilaw 032-5672457

21. Akkaraipattu A.C. Rizwan District Court Complex Coordinator/AAL Akkaraipattu

22. Balapitiya Sanjaya Wijesinghe No. 618, Walagedara Coordinator/AAL Balapitiya. 091-2255753

23. Matara Ms. Rajika Prasadini No. 38, Coordinator/AAL Lawyers Complex Fort, Matara 041-2233815

24. Vavunia M. Sittampalam Court Complex, A.A.L. - Director Vavunia 024-2221899

25. Trincomalee K. Sivapalan Court Complex, Coordinator/AAL Trincomalee 026-222293

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