International Women’s Day centenary
On March 8, the world would undertake activities to empower the women
in our society. Last year The United Nations under the leadership of
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated a worldwide program to
eliminate multifarious violence against women. The program would
continue till 2015. This year the theme for International Women’s Day is
The Legal Aid Commission jointly with a number of Women’s
Organizations is planning to celebrate the centenary International
Women’s Day on March 8, 2011.
The Prime Minister and other political leaders are expected to grace
the main event scheduled to be held in Kuliyapitiya. The Legal Aid
Commission of Sri Lanka has decided to honour four outstanding women of
The four Sri Lankans chosen for this tribute are the world’s first
woman Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranayike, Member National Committee
on Women Jazima Ismail, UN Under Secretary General Radhika Coomaraswamy
and Knight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau Deloraine Brohier.
The Legal Aid Commission during the past few years took initiatives
to legally empower the women and the girls in this country.
Sri Lanka has an effective Child Development and Women’s Empowerment
Women and Children’s Bureau in the Police and several NGOs are
dedicated to child and gender empowerment. The welfare and development
of women should not be only confined to women’s groups but the men
should also make gender equality a business of their own.
In this country, legislators even though they were overwhelmingly men
(which should be corrected) have enacted progressive legislation to
empower women commencing from the 1978 Constitution, with several pieces
of important legislation, such as 1995 amendment to the Penal Code and
the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 and the enactment of International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights just last year.
Apart from pro-women legislation, Sri Lanka has two women Justices in
the Supreme Court, a woman Secretary-General of Parliament and very
effective Secretaries to empower Ministries.
This trend needs to be fortified. Sri Lankan women deserve equal
treatment for they have earned their rights.
Mere hosannas on how women make the major contribution to the economy
by remitting billions working as migrant workers, working in garment
factories and tea estates. Women not only look after the children but
provide old age care without any remuneration.
Women have made sacrifices to make these contributions and society
should recognize their contribution.
For instance, the semi educated domestic workers when returning to
Sri Lanka should be respected like in the Philippines and not be treated
as sullied characters by working away from their homes. ‘Pathway to
decent work for Women’ this year’s UN slogan for the International
Women’s Day should be a live principle not only for government policy
makers but also for the private sector in the Sri Lankan economy.
There should be more women in the Boards of Directors in the blue
chip Companies and the Corporate Social responsibility must develop
leadership training programs for women and girls.
International service clubs like the Rotary and the Lions should
promote more and more dedicated women to join in their membership and
club activities. Before everything, women should be treated with dignity
S S Wijeratne
‘Crossings’ on cheques
Question: I want to know the effect of crossing cheques. Could
you also explain to me the following types of crossing:
(a) General Crossing
(b) Special Crossing
I await your valuable reply through your Legal Aid Page. Your page
provides a great service to the country.
Fernanado Sent by email
Answer: The crossing on a cheque is a direction to the paying
bank that the cheque should be paid only to another bank. A bank can
ignore the crossing and pay a crossed cheque over the counter. However,
if it later turns out that the person paid was not entitled to receive
that payment, the paying bank will be liable to the true owner and will
also forfeit the statutory protection of the Ordinance. This is because
payment of a cheque in contravention of a crossing would be regarded as
negligence by the bank.
Where a cheque bears across its face an addition of -
(a) the words “and Company” or any abbreviations thereof between two
parallel transverse lines, either with or without the words “not
(b) two parallel lines simply, either with or without words “not
negotiable” - that addition constitutes a crossing and the cheque is
Where a cheque bears across its face an addition of the name of a
banker with or without the words, “not negotiable”, that addition
constitutes a crossing, and the cheque is crossed specially and to that
How to obtain lost Identity Card
Question: I lost my Identity Card. I have a photocopy of the
same. Please let me know how to get my lost Identity Card. I know
through your Legal Aid Page that the original Birth Certificate is
necessary to get a new Identity Card.
Aruna Shantha - Bibila
Answer: If you want to obtain a new Identity Card, you have to
first make a complaint to the Police station and get the certified copy
of that complaint. Thereafter you have to meet your Grama Niladhari and
get an Application Form and have the form duly completed.
After preparing all the documents you have to submit five identity
card size (coloured photographs) and the photocopy of the identity card.
It is necessary to submit the original Birth Certificate to get the
new identity card because the date of birth is necessary. The Registrar
of Persons has ‘One Day Service’ to issue Identity Card on a fee of Rs
500. Otherwise you can get your Identity Card from the Grama Sevaka
through the normal procedure which will take at least one month. If you
need any assistance you can visit our Head Office at No.129, Hulftsdorp
Street, High Court Complex, Colombo 12.
Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
Question: We are aware that under the Domestic Violence Act
court has power to issue interim order or protection order to the
Respondent. What are the prohibitions that contain in the
above-mentioned orders? Please explain.
Ruwan Keerthi - Akuressa
Answer: The prohibitions are -
(a) entering a residence or any specified part thereof, shared by the
aggrieved person and the respondent.
(b) entering the aggrieved person’s -
(ii) place of employment;
(c) entering any shelter in which the aggrieved person may be
(d) preventing the aggrieved person who ordinarily lives or has lived
in a shared residence from entering or remaining in the shared residence
or a specified part of the shared residence;
(e) occupying the shared residence;
(f) having contact with any child of the aggrieved person or having
contact with such child other than on the satisfaction of such
conditions as it may consider appropriate, where the court is satisfied
that it is in the best interest of such child;
(g) preventing the aggrieved person from using or having access to
(h) contacting or attempting to establish contact with the aggrieved
person in any manner whatsoever;
(i) committing acts of violence against any other person whether it
be a relative, friend, social worker or medical officer, who may be
assisting the aggrieved person;
(j) following the aggrieved person around as to cause a nuisance;
(k) engaging in such other contact as in the opinion of the court
will be detrimental to the safety, health or well-being of the aggrieved
person or other person who may require protection from the respondent as
the court may specify in the Protection Order;
(l) selling, transferring, alienating or encumbering the matrimonial
home so as to place the aggrieved person in a destitute position.
Domestic violence against women
Question: I read your editorial which appeared in the Daily
News Legal Aid Page last week. According to the said editorial majority
of disputes are related to maintenance and divorce.
My sister is also subjected to a lot of harassment and violence from
her husband, but she does not want to divorce him.
I would like to know the offences that are stipulated in the
Prevention of Domestic Violence Act No.34 of 2005.
Chintha Sajeewani - Panadura
Answer: Thank you very much for reading our page. The offences
specified in Schedule 1 of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act No 34
of 2005 are given below:-
1. (a) All offences contained in Chapter XVI of the Penal Code and
its amendments (beginning from Section 293 to 365). The relevant
sections are quoted below:-
Section 293 - Culpable homicide
Section 294 - Murder
Section 295 - Culpable homicide by causing the death of aperson other
than the person whose death wasintended.
Section 298 - Causing death by negligence.
Section 299 - Abetment of suicides.
Section 300 - Attempt to murder.
Section 301 - Attempt to commit culpable homicide.
Section 303 - Causing miscarriage
Section 304 - Causing miscarriage without women’s concern.
Section 308 - Cruelty to children
Section 311 - Grievous hurt
Section 330 - Wrongful restraint
Section 331 - Wrongful confinement
Section 340 - Force
Section 341 - Criminal force
Section 342 - Assault
Section 345 - Sexual harassment
Section 353 - Abduction
Section 350 - Kidnapping
Section 363 - Rape
Section 364 - Incest
Section 365 - Grave sexual abuse
1. Extortion Section 372 of the Penal Code
“Whoever intentionally puts any person in fear of any injury to that
person or to any other and thereby dishonestly induces the person so put
in fear to deliver to any person any property or valuable security or
anything signed or sealed which may be converted into a valuable
security, commits extortion”.
2. Criminal intimidation Section 483 of the Penal Code
“Whoever threatens another with any injury to his person, reputation,
or property or to the person or reputation of anyone in whom that person
is interested with intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause
that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do, or to
omit to do any act which that person is legally entitled to do, as the
means of avoiding the execution of such threat, commits criminal
3. Attempt to commit any of the above offences.
(c) Any emotional abuse,
Committed or caused by a relevant person within the environment of
the home or outside and arising out of the personal relationship between
the aggrieved person and the relevant person;
‘Emotional abuse’ means a pattern of cruel, inhuman, degrading or
humiliating conduct of a serious nature directed towards an aggrieved
If you need any legal advice in the matter, you could visit our Head
Office at No.129, Hulftsdorp Street, High Court Complex, Colombo 12.
Question: A relation of mine, a pensioner retired two years
ago. His wife was sick and died very recently. His wife has an unmarried
sister who is solely dependent on this pensioner for everything and at
the same time she doesn’t have parents as well.
Since she is unmarried and without parents there is no one to look
after her except for this pensioner, I want to know whether there is any
provision for her to draw the pension after the pensioner’s death.
D Chethika - Mahara
Answer: Under the Pension Minutes and Circulars, once the
pensioner dies, automatically his pension ceases. Although, according to
the Widows and Orphans Ordinance, only the widow and the orphans
children are entitled to get the benefits Therefore the unmarried sister
is not entitled to get his pension.
Filing action against Son-in-Law
Question: I had an affair. Both our parents were against our
affair. So we eloped and got married legally. We are both over 18 years
of age. However my father made a complaint to the Police and thereafter
I was arrested. I later got to know that her father is trying to file a
case against me. Can he do so?
Chamara - Katupotha
Answer: If both of you are over 18 years and legally married,
no one can separate the both of you. If your wife’s father is trying to
file a case against you, you can seek relief by filing a writ
application in the High Court where you are residing.
What is incest?
Question: What is incest?
Gaganath - Kothmale
Answer: Under the Penal Code and its Amendment in 1995, the
law defines incest as whoever has sexual intercourse with another who
stands towards him in following relationships:
(a) directly descended, adoptive relationships.
(b) Sister by blood or adoption.
(c) Brother by blood or adoption.
The offence of incest shall not be affected or negated by reason of
legality of such relationship (absence of valid marriage or adoption)
Rigorous imprisonment 7-20 years with fine.
* Attempt to commit incest-two years
* Written sanction of the Attorney-General is necessary for prosecution.
Family laws in Sri Lanka
Question: I am a keen reader of your Daily News Legal Aid
Page. This page provides useful articles as well as answers to legal
questions raised by individuals in different parts of the island.
I would be very grateful if you could let me know through your page
the different types of marriage laws in Sri Lanka and its requirements.
Answer: The body of law relating to marriage consists of the
general law, customary law and personal law. Tamils are governed by the
general law in most marriage-related matters, whereas Kandyan Sinhalese
can choose to be governed by the general law or their customary laws.
Muslims are governed by Muslim personal law.
The 1907 Marriage Registration Ordinance constitutes the general law
on marriage in Sri Lanka. The Ordinance applies to marriage between
Tamils and between individuals of differing ethnic and religious
Pursuant to a 1995 amendment to the Ordinance, the minimum age of
marriage was raised to 18 for both men and women. A subsequent
provision, however, authorizes parents to consent to a marriage
involving a minor. If a parent unreasonably withholds consent, a court
may authorize the marriage.
Courts have held, however, that a parent’s refusal to give consent
will only be overruled if the court is satisfied that the refusal is
without cause and contrary to the interest of the minor.
Despite the requirement of parental consent for a minor to marry, the
Ordinance provides that lack of proof of such consent does not render
invalid marriages registered under the Ordinance. This exception does
not apply to customary marriages because such marriages would not have
satisfied the registration requirement.
However, courts have held in cases of unregistered marriages as well
that want of consent would not invalidate such a marriage after it had
Divorce without going to Courts
Question: We got married last year. We want to know what are
the possibilities for us to get a divorce, without going to courts.
Is this possible?
How can we do it?
How much time will it take?
Thank you very much for your valuable service.
Kamalika - Maharagama
Answer: Under the Marriage Registration Ordinance 1907 and its
amendments, if you want to get a divorce, you have to fulfill one of the
following three grounds:-
(b) incurable impotency at the time of marriage
Without going to courts, you cannot get a divorce. You have to file a
case in courts where one of the parties resides. During the court
proceedings, you can seek relief on the ground of desertion. If you need
further information, you can visit any one of our Legal Aid Centres
islandwide and get free legal advice regarding your problem.
Sexual harassment in work places
Question: We hear of many sexual harassments taking place in
offices. If a female employee faces such problems, the Police sometimes
never take the side of the female employee. What is the legal remedy
available to them?
Please let me know how the law defines ‘sexual harassment’ and its
punishment in the legal context ?
Dammika - Mudunkatuwa
Answer: Under the Penal Code and its Amendment in 1995,
‘sexual harassment’ is defined in Section 345 as follows:-
“Whoever by assault or use of criminal force sexually harasses
another person or by the use of words or action, causes sexual annoyance
or harassment to such other person commits the offence of sexual
Punishment- imprisonment may extend to 5 years, or fine or both and
compensation for victim. The legal remedy differs from the circumstances
of each case.
Arbitration clause in agreement
Question: I have decided to start a business with a foreign
company. We have already drafted our agreement. But we never included
the arbitration clause in our agreement. I want to know whether it is
necessary to include the arbitration clause before the parties sign the
agreement. If the agreement does not include the arbitration clause, can
the two parties resolve the dispute through arbitration. What is the
Sumeda - Negombo
Answer: If you want to resolve your dispute through
arbitration you have to include the arbitration clause in your
agreement. Arbitration clause is mentioned in part (II) of the
Arbitration Act, No, 11 of 1995. Otherwise when the dispute arises both
parties can enter a submission agreement to resolve the dispute through
In the case of business with a foreign company it is advisable to
include the arbitration clause, because the Arbitration Award is
How to obtain a deed?
Question: Please let me know how I could obtain a certified
copy of a deed, where only the number of the deed and the name of the
lawyer who prepared same is available. The deed is in respect of a house
situated in Colombo. Your early advice in this regard would be greatly
Chandana - Colombo
Answer: If your land is situated in Colombo and your lawyer is
a practicing notary in Colombo, then you have a chance to get a
certified copy of the deed. You have to visit the Land Registry in
Colombo after verifying the date of attestation of the relevant deed. In
order to verify the date of attestation of the deed, you have to visit
the section where duplicate deeds of the notaries are kept. Since you
are aware of the name of the notary, you can find out the date of
To apply for a certified copy of the deed, there is an application
form to be duly filled where a stamp duty of Rs 102.50 has to be paid.
Relationship between consumers and the CAA
Question: We are all consumers, but most of us are not aware
of our consumer rights. We would be pleased if you could clarify the
1. Please let us know the main functions of the Consumer Affairs
2. Who can obtain the service from the Consumer Affairs Authority?
3. What is the mechanism adopted by the Consumer Affairs Authority in
granting redress to aggrieved consumers?
4. How can a complaint or interested party make a complaint or obtain
Sent by email
Answer: 1. The main functions of the Consumer Affairs
* Handling of complaints by traders on anti-competitive practices and
unfair trade practices.
*Conducting market investigations and market surveys.
*Specifying goods and services which are essential to the life of the
community and regulating the prices thereof of the goods and services
specified as above.
* Computer awareness and empowerment mainly by establishing consumer
* Issuing of directives to traders and manufacturers on labeling,
packaging, price market, etc.
* Obtaining the required redress for the aggrieved consumer and
punishment of offenders through the judicial systems.
*Warning of any trader or manufacturer in the case of first
contravention of the provisions of the CAA Act
2. Aggrieved consumers and traders can seek the redress from the
Consumer Affairs Authority.
3. The mechanism adopted by the CAA in granting redress to aggrieved
consumers - A written complaint along with supportive documents which
relates to the sale of goods or to the provision of service should be
sent to the Authority within three months. An inquiry is held into the
complaint. After an inquiry the Authority shall order the trader or the
manufacturer to pay compensation to aggrieved party or to replace such
goods or to refund the amount paid for such goods or the provision of
4. A complaint or interested party can make a complaint or obtain
information. Complaints should be addressed to the Director-General of
the Authority to the address given below:
Consumer Affairs Authority,
CWE Secretariat Building,
27, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 2.
Tel Nos: Chairman - 2399146. Director - 2399149. General - 2393577,
2445897, 2393495, 2393970, 2399147.
Fax No. - 2399148
The Legal Aid Commission has already set up a Consumer Protection
Desk. If you need any assistance relating to consumer rights, you can
kindly call over at our Desk situated at our Head Office at No.129,
Hulftsdorp Street, High Court Complex, Colombo 12.
Question: How is a man said to have committed rape? Could you
please define this clearly through your valuable Daily News Legal Aid
I also take this opportunity to thank the Legal Aid Commission for
the valuable service rendered to the public through this page. Well
done. Keep it up.
Premalal - Moratuwa
Answer: Under Section 363 of the Penal Code Act, No.22 of
1995, man is said to commit ‘rape’ who has sexual intercourse with a
woman under circumstances falling under any of the following
descriptions - (a) without her consent even where such woman is his wife
and she is judicially separated from the man; (b) with her consent,
while she was lawful or unlawful detention or when her consent has been
obtained, by use of force or intimidation, or by threat of detention or
by putting herein fear of death or hurt,
(c) with her consent when her consent has been obtained at a time
when she was of unsound mind or was in a state of intoxication induced
by alcohol or drugs, administered to her by the man or by some other
(d) with her consent when the man knows that he is not her husband,
and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another
man to whom she is, or believed herself to be, lawfully married;
(e) with or without her consent when she is under sixteen years of
age, unless the woman is his wife who is over twelve years of age and is
not judicially separated from the man.