Daily News Online

Friday, 24 July 2009

News Bar »

News: Drastic drop in unemployment ...        Political: Cabinet Decisions ...       Business: Huge potential untapped ...        Sports: Tough ask for Sri Lanka ...






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

legal aid commission

Compiled by Kalani A. Medagoda, A.A.L.

Press Council law reforms

Responsible media freedom is essential for democratic good governance. Eventhough, the print media is gradually shrinking globally in the wake of the explosion of the Internet and electronic communications, the newspapers would continue to play a vital role in democratic governance specially in the developing countries. The need to protect and foster responsible media freedom has to be assessed in that context.

The avowed objective of all Press Councils in the world, whether self regulatory or legislation based should be to protect the freedom of the press by developing high media ethics and assuring the dignity of the newspaper professionals by ensuring their professional and economic independence.

Self regulatory Press Complaints Commissions or the Councils established by law should function without fear or bias either to the newspaper proprietors, private or state owned which finance the institutions.

Journalists are not business men hence they need an assured income to sustain their professional independence. Income support should not be manipulated to taint their professional freedom.

The Sri Lanka Press Council Law No.5 of 1973 was enacted as the title indicates 36 years ago amidst high controversy.

In 2003 with the expiry of the period of office of the Press Council Members, no new members were appointed by then President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Neither did the then Government take steps to repeal the law merely allowing the Law to lie in abeyance. The Law has now been re-activated with the appointment of a new set of Council members by the President.

The Press Council is a Quasi-Judicial body and the law expects it to function independently to safeguard press freedom but also to prevent abuse by establishing a public inquiry mechanism when the print media publishes anything distorted, untrue or improper.

Newspaper publishers and journalists who comply with high standards of journalistic ethics rarely face public complaints. The victims of media injury need a forum to seek justice and rectification. Distorted, untrue and improper publications can do irreparable harm to individuals and institutions.

The Press Council Law attempts to guarantee due process by conducting public inquiry where legal representation is permitted. The Councillors once appointed like members of the Superior Judiciary cannot be removed until the expiry of the term or resignation. In any event, the Council had been vested with no powers of punitive punishment. The Council after inquiry into a public complaint, if established, could only order a correction, censor, or publication of an apology to the injured person or institution. Most responsible newspapers voluntarily rectify errors when brought to editorial attention.

The Press Council law provision relating to criminal defamation was repealed. Rather draconian provisions relating to Cabinet decisions and matters relating to the official Secret Act which have no relation to the Quasi-judicial functions of the Council should be deleted from the Press Council Law.

The urgent attention of the new Council should be directed to enhance the dignity of journalistic profession.

Public Legal Awareness Unit

LAC calls on Chief Justice

Legal Aid Commission Chairman S.S. Wijeratne and Commissioners Manohara de Silva, PC, Rohan Sahabandu, Upali Gooneratne, Swarna Perera, Dr.W.D. Rodrigo, Uditha Egalahewa and Secretary to the Commission Lilanthi de Silva called on the new Chief Justice Asoka de Silva last week. The Chief Justice was apprised abut the programs of the LAC to establish a comprehensive access to justice scheme under the Legal Aid Law No.27 of 1978.

Chief Justice J.A.N. de Silva meeting with the Legal Aid Commission. From left: LAC Chairman S.S. Wijeratne, LAC Secretary Lilanthi de Silva, Commissioners Uditha Egalahewa, Manohara de Silva, PC, Rohan Sahabandu and Upali Gooneratne Picture by W.H. Chandradasa

Among the matters brought to the attention of the Chief Justice is the revival of Legal Aid Advisory Council chaired by the Chief Justice which is entrusted with the function of advising the LAC from time to time as provided in Section 14 of the Legal Aid Law.

Administrator of LAC, Dr. W.D. Rodrigo as Secretary of the Advisory Council will take steps to summon a meeting in the near future.

As Supreme Court Rules provide for letters and petitions received by the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court on violations of fundamental rights to be referred inter alia to the LAC to take follow up action, the Registrar of the Supreme Court was requested to distribute FR violation complaints between the LAC and the BASL.

The Commission also highlighted the need for recognition of the public service rendered by the full time legal aid lawyers on very modest emoluments and it was generally agreed that the core responsibility for legal aid should be taken by the state. The recent trend for increased support of the LAC by the Government was appreciated and should be reinforced in the future.

Questions and Answers

Question: Please let me know the powers and the functions of the Criminal Records Division in the Police Department.

Answer: The Division consists of three main sections.

They are the Finger Print Bureau, the Criminal Records Office and the Photographic

Bureau. Finger Print Bureau The most cost effective definite and legal way for the identification of persons is by the use of finger prints. Crimes of the entire island stored through finger print records. The ridge characteristics on the skin on finger, palm and foot can be compared to identify two prints. These characteristics on the skin make contact easy and are unique to humans.

Assisting the public by identifying through finger prints:

* Investigations at the scene of a crime.

* To identify persons in the case of forged documents

* To submit expert evidence to courts in order to punish criminals.

* To issue clearance certificates.

EPF matter

Question: Please let me know the reasons of amendment of contribution to member accounts. Your early reply would be appreciated. Sampath, Mahara.

Answer: Reasons requiring amendment of contributions:

1. Employer making contributions by changing his employment number.

2. District code letter incorrectly stated with the employer number.

3. Using some other employment number instead of the assigned employer number.

4. Allocating the same member number to several other members from time to tome.

5. Use of serial number instead of member number.

6. Change of numbers in member numbers.

7. Recording the member number illegibly.

8. Crediting contributions to the same old number after amalgamation of accounts.

9. Crediting funds to the same number after refund of benefits.

10. Assigning a number belonging to one member to another.

11. On payment of refund of benefits assign the same number to another member or credit funds to the same member even after refund.

Birth Certificate

Question: I have given a short name to my child in her birth certificate. In my child’s birth certificate, my name appears as ‘Jayasighe Arachchige Sudath Priyankara Perera.’ Child’s name as ‘Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi.’

I want my child to be called ‘Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi’ as her full name. I do not want to see her full name written as ‘Jayasinghe Arachchige Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi Perera.’

Whereas, in my birth certificate, my name appears as ‘Sudath Priyankara’. However, from school admission onwards, my full name has been written as ‘Jayasinghe Arachchige Sudath Priyankara Perera’ automatically because my father’s name has been written as, ‘Jayasinghe Arachchige Kirinelis Perera’ in my birth certificate.

Therefore, will it create any unnecessary dispute if my child uses here full name as ‘Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi’ in her career or in property matters in the future?

Your professional legal advice is highly appreciated in this regard.

Answer: Under the Birth and Death Registration Ordinance, the father’s surname automatically comes to your child’s Birth Certificate.

Your surname appears as ‘Jayasinghe Arachchige and Perera. That means your child’s full name should be ‘Jayasinghe Arachchige Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi Perera.’ She cannot change her father’s detail as she wishes. Therefore your child’s full name should be Jayasinghe Arachchige Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi Perera. She cannot use ‘Mihili Jayasinghe Arachchi’ that is her name not her full name.

Under the Birth and Death Registration Ordinance if your child is under 21 years old the parents can change the child’s full name.

If the child is above 21 years old he or she can change his or her name. In that event surname can be changed. But it should be mentioned in her Birth Certificate in cage 13. If you need further advice you can call our at our Legal Aid Commission Head Office.

W&OP payments

Question: I married a person who was a government servant at the time of marriage. We had a disabled child. After some time he started neglecting both of us.

I filed a case in the Magistrate’s Court and got maintenance from him for both of us. I neither divorced him nor did he get involved with another woman .Last month he died in a road accident.

I want to know whether am I entitled to his pension. I know his W&OP number. What shall I do? Please advise me?

Answer: If you are the first legal wife of your husband, you can get his pension. You have to inform to the Pension Department that you are his legal wife and that you have disabled child.

They will send you the necessary information to you. Please note that if you have a disabled child he/she can get his/her fathers pension through life time after the spouse’s death. The address is given below: Department of Pension,

Protection on rights of elders

Question: We know there are so many elders who are being neglected by their children. I want to know whether there are any prevailing laws in Sri Lanka to care for elders.

Answer: The Elders Act No. 09 of 2000 - section 15

(1) states that” children shall not neglect their parents willfully and it shall be the duty and the responsibility of children to provide care for, and to took in to the needs of their parents.

(2) The state shall provide appropriate residential facilities, to destitute elders who are without children or are abandoned by their children.

(3) No elder shall, on account of his age, be subject to any liability, restriction or condition with regard to access to or use of, any be subject to any liability restriction or condition with regard to access to or use of, any building or place or institution which any other person has access to or is entitled to use, whether on payment of any fee or not”.

Authentication of documents

Question: My brother has decided to go abroad . He needs to get the authentication of his Birth and Educational Certificates to be forwarded to foreign countries. How can we get this done? Please help me?

Answer: If you want authentication of your documents, you have to handed over those documents to the Consular Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic Building, Colombo 01, Sri Lanka.

Documents are accepted for attestation from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the attested documents are returned to the owners from 10.30 a.m. time to time calling the token numbers through the Public Addressing System. The original certificate should be forwarded for attestation. Photostat copies are not attested.

The Consular Division are attested Only the documents that are written in Sinhala, Tamil, English and Arabic.

Only the translations done by sworn translators are attested and the sworn translator should clearly mention on his/her letterhead or the seal/stamp, the languages in which he is authorized to do the translations.

When a Sinhala or Tamil or English document is translated into Arabic, the particulars of the original document should be mentioned in English in the document that has been translated into Arabic.

* When the authenticity of a document has to be confirmed before attestation and the specimen signature required for the attestation of a document is not available, the document is forwarded to the relevant authority for verification for which a period of about 3 weeks is necessary.

Letters addressed to the Ambassadors and diplomatic officers of foreign countries, various institutions in foreign countries etc. are not attested.

The documents should be in the form ‘To whom it may concern’. Also the letters/documents regarding the obtaining of visas for foreign countries are not attested.

The Consular Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are not attested by deeds/titles, bank statements, appointment letters, defamatory documents.

Registration of Persons Department

Question: Please let me know if there are any branch offices of the Registration of Persons Department in Sri Lanka?

Answer: The Head Office of the Registration of Persons Department is situated at No.C45, Keppetipola Mawatha, Colombo 05. Tel 011-2583199, 011- 2508022. Fax 011-2593634. E-mail rpd@esrilanka.lk Web site http://www.rpd.gov.lk

Office of Registration of Persons,

Record Room, No. 239, High level Road, Nugegoda. Tel: 011-2856141 Office of Registration of persons District Secretariat, Jaffna. Tel: 021-2225052.

Office of Registration of Persons, District Secretariat, Kandy. Tel: 081-2234752

How to get copy of Birth Certificate

Question: I was born in Italy 25 years ago . At that time my mother had registered my birth at the Italian Embassy. Now I have lost my original birth certificate. Please let me know how to get my Birth Certificate?

Answer: If your mother has already registered your birth at the Italian Embassy, you can apply for a certified copy of the birth certificate from the Central Record Room at Maligawaththa, Colombo 10. You can obtain the Application Form B63 from any of the Divisional Secretary’s Office. Fill the said Application Form and hand over the same with the relevant stamps and self addressed envelope. Thereafter you can get the certified copy of your Birth Certificates.

Domestic Violence Act

Question: I am always harassed by my husband. I am subjected to hospitalization due to his abnormal behavior. I discussed this matter with my relations and they adviced me to file a domestic violence case. I want to know whether the court can issue an order to prevent his bad actions. Please advice me?

Answer: Under the Domestic Violence Act No 34 of 2005 the court can ensure the safety of the aggrieved person . Under this Act, the court can issue protection order preventing the aggrieved person from using or having access to shared resources. The Domestic Violence Act No 34 of 2005 section 8 says that “in determining whether a protection Order should be issued or not, the court shall take in to consideration the need to prevent the commission of any act of Domestic Violence and the need to ensure the safety of the aggrieved person”.

Closure of company

Question: I have been a Director of a company which had to be closed down sometime back due to continued losses.

On an application made to the Department of Labour by the company or termination of employment of workers, the Department after due inquiries ordered that compensation be paid to workers and stipulated a date for closure.

In the meantime the Directors of the defunct company sold their shares to another party who has agreed to re-open the factory and provide employment to all who were there before closure and continue the business. A. MOU was drawn.

My question is whether the former Directors are still liable to pay compensation in view of the position that there has been no termination of employment because the present Directors have agreed to employ the workers and the company continues as a going concern.

On what basis are wages to be computed in respect of the interim period during which the factory was kept closed?

Answer: According to your question, the Company had made an application to the Commissioner of Labour for the termination of employment of all employees.

An inquiry has been held by the Commissioner. After hearing evidence the Commissioner has granted permission to terminate the services of the employees and awarded compensation.

Under normal circumstances when computing compensation, the Commissioner takes into consideration the period where wages were not paid and also gratuity is computed separately.

Your question is not clear. In order to advise you in the matter, please send us a copy of your application to the Commissioner General of Labour and the order made in that connection.

LAC vacancies

Applications are invited from Attorneys-at-Law with six years practice in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal and with experience in human rights based legal aid work.

Position: Legal Officer, Human Rights Bureau.
Salary: Negotiable depending on qualifications and experience in handling fundamental rights cases.
Closing Date: August 15, 2009

Mailing Address:
The Chairman
Legal Aid Commission
129, Hulftsdorp Street,
Colombo 12.

ICLP mediation program

The Institute for the Development of Commercial Law and Practice will conduct its mediation program on August 8 from 9 am to 4.30pm at the ICLP Arbitration Centre.

For whom
Any professional who has an interest in

alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Resource Persons

Secretary General of ICLP Arbitration

Centre S.S Wijeratne.

Community Mediation

Mrs. Kamalini De Silva, Additional Secretary,

Ministry of Justice.

Commercial Mediation in Commercial Contracts

Ms Nadija Tambiah, Head of Secretarial &

Legal John Keells Holdings PLC

Mediation under Public Utilities Act

Public Utilities Commission

Yasantha Rathuwithana, Public Utilities Commission Mediation in practice

M. Thirunavukarasu

Mediator Trainer-Ministry of Justice

Contact Ishara, ICLP Arbitration Centre, 61, Carmel Road, Colombo 3, Tel/Fax: 2346163/4, 0775375998 email: iclp@eureka.lk for further details.

Voet Inn dinner

The 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee dinner of the Voet Inn Association at the Galadari Hotel on August 29 at 7 p.m. All Voet Inners please contact the following Attorney’s-At-Law Mahinda Ekanayake - 0776066925, Mahinda Lokuge - 0773266474, S. Suntheralingam - 0777 374423, Chamath Jayasekara - 0773 113876 Uthpala Adhikari - 0718 032712 - P.S.

The Annual General Meeting of the Voet Inn Association will also be held at the same venue at 6.30 p.m.

Secretary - Voet Inn Association

Study Human Rights through online diploma

The Centre for the Study of Human Rights of the University of Colombo is making it possible for students to broaden their knowledge on Human Rights through an internet course.

The course will be conducted in English. It will commence soon and is still open for applications from prospective students.

This course is suitable for school leavers who are interested in the Human Rights field, for individuals who are engaged in areas that require a solid theoretical knowledge in Human Rights and to anyone who is interested in gaining knowledge on Human Rights.

The basic entry qualifications are set at credit pass for O’level English, simple passes for the three A’level subjects and computer literacy.

For more information please contact Prof. Ravindra Fernando, Director or Ms. Subhashinie Dayananda of Centre for the Study of Human Rights, University of Colombo, Colombo 03. (Tel: 2500879/112503017).


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

Yours questions should be addressed to -

Daily News Legal Aid Page
Chairman Legal Aid Commission
No. 129, Hulftsdorp Street,
Colombo 12.

Email: legalaid.dailynews@yahoo.com

Website: www.lawaid.org


St. Michaels Laxury Apartments
Donate Now | defence.lk
LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka

| News | Editorial | Business | Features | Political | Security | Sport | World | Letters | Obituaries |

Produced by Lake House Copyright © 2009 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor