Legal Aid Commission
Muslim Law in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a country where a mixed legal system applies. Muslim Law
is one of the special laws which is applicable to inhabitants of Sri
Lanka who are Muslims. It is one of the customary laws like Tesawalamai
and Kandyan Law which are applicable to particular ethnic groups.
Anuradhapura Legal Aid Commission Regional Director Asoka
Mahadiulwewa inaugurating the tree planting programme under the
‘Rajarata Neethi Udana’ programme. Legal Aid Commission chairman
S S Wijeratne was also present. Picture by W Chandradasa
It is important to note that Muslim Law is different from Sharia Law
or Islamic Law, but the Muslim law contains certain aspects of Islamic
Law or Shara Law in it. Today the private matters of Muslims are
governed by Muslim Law for instance marriage, divorce custody and
maintenance. Now a days, the Muslim law principles have been included
into three key statutes as Act No. 13 of 1951 Marriage and Divorce
(Muslim) Act, Act No. 10 of 1931 Muslim Intestate Succession Ordinance
and Act No. 51 of 1956 Muslim Mosques and Charitable Trusts or Wakfs
As stated earlier the Muslim Law could be applied for people who are
only Muslims by virtue of birth and conversion to Islam.
Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act specifically says in Section 17, that
every marriage contracted between Muslims after the commencement of this
Act shall be registered immediately upon the conclusion of the ‘Nikah’
ceremony connected therewith. It is noteworthy to state on ‘Nikah’ .
Nikah is an Arabic word and the nikah ceremony is similar to customary
Section 08 of this Act states that there are male registrars to be
appointed for the purpose of solemnization of Muslim marriages. Muslim
Law speaks about ‘Mahr’ and ‘Kaikuli'. In which the Kaikuli is not
promoted by Sharia Law.
There is a special court system known as Quazi Court set up to look
into the matrimonial matters and maintenance disputes of muslims.
Appeals from Quazi Court shall be lodged in Board of Quazis.
Muslim Law permits more than one marriage only for the male party,
but it doesn't permits to misuse it's principles. It's amply clear in
the case of Natalie Abeysundere Vs Christopher Abeysundere and another
1998 1 SLR 185. In this case where a non Muslim contracted his first
marriage under the Marriage Registration Ordinance had contracted the
second marriage under Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act during the
subsistence of the marriage by embracing Islam. The court held that the
second purported marriage contracted under the Muslim Marriage and
Divorce Act is void notwithstanding the conversion to Islam.
Ruhunu Rata Neethi Udanaya inauguration
Commission of Sri Lanka has been the forerunner and pioneer in this
composite area. In 2012, as a comprehensive extension of the service
provided by the LAC in the form of 'Legal Aid', which comprises both
court - based legal aid (consultation and litigation) and community -
based legal aid (awareness programmes targeting public officers and
general public), the LAC has planned a special programme under the theme
'Neethi Udanaya'(Legal Awakening). A series of Neethi Udanaya Programmes
will cover the whole country.
Preserving and respecting our cultural and historical heritage, new
broad approaches that cover the new programmes will be aptly called the
Ruhunu Rata Neethi Udanaya, Maya Rata Neethi Udanaya, Kandu Rata Neetrhi
Udanaya, Uthuru Rata Neethi Udanaya and Raja Rata Neethi Udanaya. It is
expected that, (the outcomes of) all five awakening programmes (Udanayas),
which will cover the whole country in 2012/2013 and contribute to better
living and lay the foundation for a better society, through legal
Each 'Neethi Udanaya'(Legal Awakening) Programme will concentrate on
two basic aspects that strengthen legal empowerment. They are;
Conducting Special Public Awareness Programmes focusing on Divisional
Secretariat divisions and opening new LAC Centres to cover newly
established judicial areas. (Presently, there are 68 Court - Based LAC
Centres throughout the country.)
The Ruhunu Rata Neethi Udanaya will commence in February 2012 with
the inauguration programme scheduled to be held in Hambantota.
[Questions and Answers]
Naming the ownership
Question: Can a Jayabhumi / Swarnabhumi grant holder decide on
ownership before his death?
Answer: Yes, a holder of a permit or a Grant Certificate can
decide before his death as to whom his ownership should pass. He can
pass his posthumous ownership by filling a form and getting the approval
of the Government Agent.
Those named for posthumous ownership should be from among blood
relations referred to below: wife/husband (spouse), mother, children,
brothers, sisters, grand children, mothers and fathers brothers and
sisters, father, children of brothers and sisters.
Note 1: The owner can select one or more persons for his/her
If more than one person is selected, the land will be divided among
Note 2: If the owner changes his/her mind after naming his or her
posthumous owner/s, can name anybody else at any stage. This can be
repeated any number of times.
Note 3: the owner cannot name posthumous owner/s for only a portion
of the land.
Revocation of the named posthumous ownership
Even if you do not make a change, the named posthumous ownership will
automatically get revoked on the following instances:
The posthumous ownership named by the owner before marriage will
automatically get revoked with the marriage.
If the owner has obtained a Jayabhumi/Swarnabhumi Grant Certificate
in exchange for LL Permit then too the named posthumous ownership will
automatically get revoked.
Services to the public
Question: Please let me know what kind of services can be
obtained from the divisional secretaries offices to the public?
Answer: A certain number of Regional Secretary Divisions are
established within each District by a regulation published within the
Gazette by the minister. Each division will be appointed with a
Divisional Secretary. The Divisional Secretary ‘s office has set up
several sections to serve the public. Details are follows
Government Lands Activities Section
1. Providing a Government land free of charge
2. Providing free Government Land developed unauthorized
3. Converting a Land Development Order (L.L. permit) to a Jayabhumi /
4. Providing Government lands on lease
Obtaining on lease, the unauthorized developed land
Land Acquisition Section
Pay valued amount of acquired lands
1. Issue permits to fell trees
2. Obtaining Permits for transporting Timber
3. Obtaining Permits for transporting furniture
4. Issue of Liquor Permit
5. Issue of Pawnbrokers License
6. Issue of Income Statement
7. Issue of Conductors License or Ticket Inspectors License
8. Providing Public Assistance (Pin-Padi)
9. Providing Assistance for illness
10. Providing Probation Assistance
11. Issuing equipment for the handicapped
12. Issuing funds in case of emergency
13. Causal Relief fund (Natural Disaster)
14. Elderly and Child Welfare
15. Special Fund
Birth/Marriage/Death Registration Section
Issue of new birth certificate
Issue a copy of birth certificate
Make changes in the present birth certificate
Issue Marriage certificate
Issue a copy of Marriage certificate
Registration of death
Issue a copy of death certificate
Vehicle License Section
Issue new vehicle license (Three Wheeler/Motor Cycles).
Renewal of vehicle license
Handling Civil Pension Schemes
Handling Widows/Widowers and Orphans Pension Scheme
Appeal for Samurdhi relief
Handling complaints of wrongfully obtained Samurdhi relief
Question: I decide to make a new passport. Please let me know
who has authority to attest a passport application?
Answer: The following persons can attest the passport
1. An officer of Sri Lanka Administrative Service, Education
Administrative Service, Accountant Service, Planning Service OR
2.Attorney at Law
3. Qualified Medical Practitioner
4 A Commissioned officer in Sri Lanka Army/Navy/Air force or Police
OIC of the Police Station of the area
5. Grama Niladhari/Samurdhi Manager/Social Service Officer of the
6. A Post Master/A Principal of School/A Labor Officer
7. An Estate Superintendent
8. Assistant Controllers, Authorized Officers and Enforcement
Officers of the Department of immigration and Emigration.
Chief Incumbent of a religious mission (Temple, Church, Mosque or
Justice of peace
Refund of W&OP payment
Question: I contributed to the W&OP pension scheme . I am
unmarried and would like to know whether I can get the contributions
made to the W&OP pension scheme.
Answer : According to the Pension Minutes and Circulars you
are entitled to get the W& OP payment . If you are unmarried at the time
of getting the pension then you can obtain the W& OP payment with
Question: What kind of services can be obtained from the Legal
aid Commission in the case of an Elders' maintenance?
Answer : Under the Protection of Elders Act No.9 of 2000 you
can get protection. Under the said Act you can file a case against the
children to get maintenance from them through the Maintenance Board. The
Maintenance Board will inform the children to pay maintenance to the
parents. If they are not willing to pay maintenance, the Magistrate's
Court can enforce the order.
The Legal Aid Commission has set up an Elders Desk which handles
cases of this nature. Further under the Domestic violence Act No34 of
2005 you can seek a protection order against them.
If you need any advice, you can visit our Head Office situated at No.
129, Hulftsdorp Street, High Court Complex, Colombo 12.
Accident at work place
Question: My friend met with an accident while on employment
and as a result He lost his right leg. This accident occurred in
November last year. The company promised to pay him but up to date they
have not done so. Is he entitled to compensation?
Answer: Under the Workmens Compensation Ordinance if an
employee meet with an accident while in service and as a result of his
employment, then he is entitled to compensation computed on the basis of
the seriousness of the injury. Such compensation has to be obtained by
forwarding an application to the commissioner on compensation and
application has to be forwarded within two years of the accident. You
have to forward this application with a medical certificate obtained
from a qualified practitioner. The address.
The Commissioner , No 136, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 02.
Question: Who may apply for a death certificate of a person
missing due to terrorist activity ,which has taken place within Sri
Answer: A next of kin of such person can apply for a death
certificate. According to the section 2 of the Registration of Death (Tempaporary
Provisions) Act, No 19 of 2010 state as follows.
2. (1) Where any person is reported missing and he has not been heard
of for a period exceeding one year by those who would naturally have
heard of him, had he been alive and his disappearance is attributable to
any terrorist orsubversive activity or civil commotion which has taken
place within Sri Lanka, a next of kin of such person if he verily
believes such person to be dead, may apply in the manner hereinafter
provided, to register the death of such person under the provisions of
the Births and Deaths Registration Act and to have issued to him, a
Certificate of Death in respect of such person.
(2) Every application under this section shall be substantially in
the Form specified in the Schedule to this Act and shall be forwarded to
the Registrar-General or theDistrict Registrar of Births and Deaths of
the District in which such missing person was last resident or had his
Schedule (Sections 2, 8 and 10)
Application for registration of death of a missing person
1. Full Name of missing person:
2. Sex and race:
4. Date of Death (approximately):
5. Address of last known residence:
6. Address of permanent residence :
7. Rank or profession:
8. Applicant's full name and residence:
9. Applicant's relationship to missing person :
do hereby state that the
(name of the person
has been missing for a period of over one year, and I verily believe
dead. I therefore request that the death be registered under the Births
and Deaths Registration Act (Chapter 110) and a Certificate of Death in
respect of such death be issued to me.
Signature of Applicant
Vocational skills for public and private sector institutions
Question: I decided to start a Vocational Traning Centre. Is
it necesssary to obtain prior approval from any department or
Answer: Yes. You have to obtain prior approval from the
Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission. The Tertiary and
Vocational Education Commission, popularly known as TVEC was established
in 1991 under the Tertiary and Vocational Education Act No. 20 of 1990
and reconstituted as a statutory body by the TVE (Amendment) Act. No 50
of 1999. The Commission is the apex body in the Technical and Vocational
Education and Training (TVET) sector. Its primary responsibility is
policy formulation, planning, quality assurance, coordination and
development of tertiary and vocational education in the country.
The objectives of the Commission:
To develop, review, and reformulate national policies on tertiary and
vocational education and training
To formulate plans for the development of tertiary and vocational
education and training sector
To implement the national system of quality assurance through
registration of institutes and accreditation of training courses
To ensure the establishment and maintenance of standards by TVET
To plan and coordinate the implementation of national trade testing
and certification system
To develop and maintain a national system of vocational
To maintain the labour market information system for the TVET sector
To develop TVET institutes through management development programmes
and financial assistance
To promote parity of esteem between education & training
For further Information you can contact -
Nipunatha Piyasa’, 354/2
Elvitigala Mawatha, Narahenpita
Phone +94(0) 115849291
Fax -+94(0) 112555007 [email protected]
Termination of employment
Question: I am employed in a company in Colombo which has 400
employees. The company decided to close down the division where I am
working effective from 30.10.2011. My period of service in the company
is 30 years. The company has given me notice of termination of
employment from 30.10.2011. What do I do?
Answer: You can complain to the Commissiorner of the Labour
Termination Unit within six months from 30.10.2011 and obtain relief.
You can also file a case in the Labour Tribunal within six months from
30.10.2011 and obtain relief. You cannot obtain relief from the Labour
Tribunal as well as Commissioner of Labour. You will have to decide
where to go.
Register an unregistered birth
Question: Many clients come to the legal aid centres to
register unregistered births. Please explain how it is done?
Answer: One of the parents or an interested party should
forward a declaration containing all particulars relating to the birth
to the Divisional Secretariat to which the place of birth belongs.
Following documents should be produced with the declaration.
a. A certificate obtained from the Divisional Secretariat to the
effect that the birth has not been registered.
B A list of brothers /sisters of whose birth has not been registered.
c. Certificate of Marriage of the parents, if they are married.
Written evidence should be produced in proof of the application made
in the declaration, as follows;
One of the following documents which includes the date and place of
birth of the subject (the person concerned);
a. Hospital birth report or a certified copy of it.
b. Grama Niladhari's report or a certified copy of it.
c. Estate birth report or a certified copy of it.
d. A copy of the midwife's register of births.
In the absence of the documents stated in above (1), one of the
following documents may be acceptable.
a. Horoscope or the record of the time of the birth which has been
prepared on a proximate date after the date, on which the birth
b. Health Progress Card.
c.Certificate of baptism.
d.A certified copy of the admission register of the subject's admission
to the school for the first time.
e. Student's Record Sheet.
If none of these documents could be forwarded, a declaration
containing birth particulars and an affidavit from the declarant as per
the specimen in annexe 01 hereof should be produced.
The application should be made in the declaration form of
Registration B - 06
Stamps for the declaration
Within twelve months from the occurrence of the birth- Rs 1.00
After lapse of over 12 months from the occurrence of the birth -
Question: I am a Sri Lankan citizen and have decided to marry
a partner who is a Dutch citizen. We want to get married in Sri Lanka.
Could you please let me know what documents my partner needs in order to
marry me in Sri Lanka?
Answer: Marriage can be registered after four days of arrival
to Sri Lanka.
Please contact the Additional District Registrar in the relevant
Divisional Secretariat Office or the Marriage Registrar within the area
you are temporary residing in Sri Lanka.
Your fiance may bring the following documents.
(ii) If she has married earlier either the divorce certificate or
decree absolute issued by the court of law
(iii) If she has married earlier and if her spouse is dead, the death
certificate of her spouse
(iv) Unmarried certificate
Question: I am a Sri Lankan and my husband is a Bangladeshi
citizen. We married in Saudi Arabia. How can we register our marriage in
Answer: If your marriage has been registered in the Embassy of
Sri lanka in Saudi Arabia,it is same as your marriage is registered in
Sri Lanka. The Embassy in your country will sends a copy of your
marriage certificate to Sri Lanka to be stored in the Central Record
Send an application to the Central Record Room in Colombo to obtain
certified copies of your marriage certificate.