Legal Aid Commission
Crime and punishment
Punishment is an integral part of the Criminal Justice system.
Historically, criminal law evolved to safeguard the rights of law
abiding citizens and ensure law and order in society. In Sri Lanka, the
pre-British forms of punishment imposed specially in the Kandyan Kingdom
were often described as overly harsh and sometimes barbaric. The death
penalty or Capital Punishment had always been the ultimate punishment in
human society. But methods of execution of death penalty were varied.
Robert Knox in his book on the 18th century Ceylon Kingdom depicts the
death penalty been imposed by killing offenders on stake or being
crushed by an elephant . The last monarch of an independent Kandyan
Kingdom, King Sri Wickramasinghe enraged by the perceived treason of
chief Adigari , resorted to extreme form of punishment to kill the elder
son by decapitating and crushing infant son by pounding up in the mortar
by the Ehilapola Kumari and drowning her to death.
Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem being greeted by Legal Aid
Commission(LAC) chairman S.S.Wijeratne at the opening ceremony
of the New Legal Aid Centre at Kadawatha on February 18. LAC
Director General Justice Hector Yapa and Senior LAC Consultant
Justice Nissanka Udalagama were also present on the occasion.
The last recorded punishment of enraged monarch were barbarous as the
offences were high treason. However, the inhuman brutality of
punishments meted out were brutal beyond the provision of Dharmishtar
rule. (The population enraged at the monarchs unbridled cruelty, A major
reason for the Kingdoms aristocracy, secretly welcome the occupation of
the Kandyan Kingdom by the British, Ultimately resulting in the capture
of the King and the Kandyan Convention in 1815.
Punishment in ancient Sri Lanka was not always excessive or barbarous
but the British rulers retained the basic punishment of Death penalty to
incaseration banishment from the kingdom, or relegating to slavery and
lower states in society. A running thread through punishment were
restoration and compensation to the Victim to restore status quo anto.
The rules of punishment were rule based and never arbitrary. The forms
of punishment in ancient Sri Lanka were based on Dharmasastra and
depicted in deferent contemporary stone inscriptions such as Galpote or
Virelkitiya or Badulla. Form of punishment should always commensurate
with the crime and attending circumstances relating time and place of
Dr. Justice ARB Amerasooriya who has done a study of the areas of
punishment in ancient Sri Lanka , in his seminal publication, The legal
Heritage of Sri Lanka with the assistance of old commentaries and
inscriptions, has stated that punishment may be imposed by societies for
the alleged purpose retaliation , retribution, requital, recompense,
lenition against others or further transgression, rehabilitation or for
the achievement of several such purpose . The ethos behind the Plethora
of forms of punishment in ancient Sri Lanka was compassionate and
diverse. The role of the king included his duty to punish offenders for
the greater good of the society. However , the ruler was given the
latitude chose from among a variety of punishment a suitable form to fit
the crime and the criminal. The dominants rationally in ancient
punishment were expiation , requital and rehabilitation. The rare
exceptions of harsher punishments were imposed in the case of treason
The legal duty of modern day Judge is related more to maintain Law
and Just orders. Judiciary has inherited the sovereignty and right of
our punishment over ancient kings. It is the sacred duty of the
Judiciary to impose punishment to be inspired by our ancient
Jurisprudence . The straight laced limitation introduced in the penal
code and relevant statutes should be reflected upon and augmented by
comparatively humanitarian doctrines of punishment such as expiation,
rehabilitation in pronouncing punishment.
- S.S. Wijeratne
New LAC centres at Kadawatha and Kesbawa Courts
In keeping with the national policy to provide Legal Aid to deserving
persons in all Court Complexes in Sri Lanka,the LAC recently opened
recently the 69th and 70th Legal Aid Centers at the Court Complexes in
Kadawatha and Kesbawa.
Under the National Policy on equal Access to Justice for all , the
Legal Aid Commission in collaboration with Ministry of Justice plans to
establish Legal Aid Centres in court complexes islandwide.
The new Court Complex in Kadawatha will house a Magistrate's Court
covering provisions of nine Police stations (Kadawatha, Kiribathgoda,
Peliyagoda, Peliyagoda SCIB, Kelaniya, Ragama, Meegahawatta, Biyagama
and JaEla). Plans are a A District Court is scheduled to be established
Minister of Justice Rauf Hakeem, Justice Ministry secretary Kamalini
de Silva, Kadawatha Magistrate Darshika Wimalasiri,Justices Hector Yapa
and Nissanka Udalagama and LAC chairman S.S. Wijeratne participated at
the opening ceremony.
[ Questions and Answers]
Obtaining a duplicate certificate and
the vehicle identity card
Question: I have a car. The vehicle identity card and the
registration certificate of my car has been misplaced. Can I apply for a
duplicate vehicle identity card and the registration certificate of the
Answer: Yes ,
You can obtain a duplicate of the registration certificate of the
vehicle and the vehicle identity card .
CMT 65 application
A certified copy of the complaint lodged with the Police with respect
to the loss of that certificate and the receipt of payment for that.
In case a mortgage / an absolute ownership / a lease has been
registered, a letter issued by the relevant institution stating that it
does not object to the issue of a duplicate. If the original of the
registration certificate or the vehicle identity card is disfigured or
partially destroyed, the same should be submitted as well. A photocopy
of the national identity card. A CMT 130 application to obtain weight
certificate of a vehicle.
The above-mentioned documents should be submitted to the Technical
Branch and thereafter prior approval for the conversion should be
obtained from the Commissioner General of Motor Traffic.
Producing the approval documents and the vehicle to the Werahera
office and obtaining weight certificate and fuel conversion of vehicle
can be performed after handing over the documents to the relevant
Duplicate of the
number plate of a vehicle
Question : Please let me
know the documents needed to obtain a duplicate of the number plate of a
vehicle with English letters.
Answer: CMT 65 application
A certified copy of the complaint lodged with the police on the loss
of the number plate / sticker and the receipt of payment in that
If a mortgage / an absolute ownership / a lease has been registered,
a letter issued from the relevant institution intimating that it does
not object to the issue of a duplicate of the number plate / sticker. If
the original of the number plate / sticker is disfigured or partially
destroyed, the same should be submitted as well. A photo copy of the
national identity card.
President’s Fund grants assistance
for deserving patients
Question: Please let me
know how can I find the Presidents Fund contact details
Answer: You can obtain the
details of following address
Address: No.41, Renuka
Building(Ground Floor), Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo 01.Tel: +94 11
2386801+94 11 2382316+94 11 2331245+94 11 2431610
Fax: +94 11 2331243E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Payment of Gratuity
Question : What are the
basic requirments that have to be fulfilled to obtain Gratuity? Which
categories of workers cannot benefit from the Payment of Gratuity Act?
Answer: The basic
requirments that has to be fulfilled to obtain Gratuity
The Payment of Gratuity Act No. 12 of 1983 provides for the payment
of gratuity by employers to their employees under the Amendment to the
Land Acquisition Act, the Land Reform Law and the Industrial Disputes
Act. The Act has two parts: Part I applies to workers in the plantation
sector who ceased to be employed upon the take-over of estates or lands
which were vested in the Land Reform Commission.
Part II of the Act makes every employer who has 15 or more workers on
any day during a 12 month period, liable to pay gratuity.
If the worker has completed five years or more of service prior to
termination, the employer must pay that worker within a period of 30
days, half a month’s wages or salary for each year of completed service.
The gratuity will be calculated against the last month’s wage drawn by
that worker. When the worker is a piece-rated worker, the daily wage or
salary shall be computed by dividing the total wage received by him/her
for a period of three months immediately preceding termination, by the
number of days worked by him in that period. The Amendment Act No. 41 of
1990 has provided for the payment of gratuity to employees of public
corporations and government owned business undertakings if they are
converted into public companies.
Categories of workers who cannot get benefits from the Payment of
.Personal chauffeurs in private households
.Employees of co-operative societies
.Employees who are entitled to a pension under any non-contributory
.Workmen designated under the Indian Repatriates (Special Provisions)
Law of 1978
.Any establishment employing less than 15 persons during the period
of 12 months immediately preceding the termination of services of a
Question : Please answer
What is the Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF)?
Who can be a member of the ETF?
What is the contribution and who makes it to the ETF?
When can I claim my benefits from the ETF?
What are the benefits under the ETF social security programme?
Answer: Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF)
The main objectives of ETF are:
To promote employee ownership, employee welfare and economic
democracy through participation in financing and investment
To promote employee participation in management through the
acquisition of equity interest in enterprises
To provide for non-contributory benefits to employees upon retirement
Eligible for a member of the ETF
All workers who are employed in private and public sector
undertakings in the following categories are eligible to membership
under the ETF:
Permanent, Temporary, Casual Contract, Piece-rate wages, Learners and
The Act exempts:
.Employees in religious, social or charitable institutions employing
less than 10 employees
.Industrial undertakings training juvenile offenders, orphans, or
persons who are destitute, deaf or blind
.Businesses where only family members are employed
.Persons who are self-employed and migrant workers are also eligible
to ETF membership on a voluntary basis as published in the Schedule in
Gazette Extraordinary No. 171/2, 14/12/81.
Contribution to the ETF
.Every employer to whom the ETF Act applies must make a contribution
on a monthly basis of 3 percent of the total earnings of the employee.
.There is no recovery from the employee and the liability of this
contribution lies solely with the employer.
.If the employer delays in forwarding the contributions according to
the legal timeframe, then the employer is liable to a surcharge.
Under Section 44, ‘earnings’ is defined as:
.Wages, salary or fees
.Cost of living allowance, special living allowance and other similar
.Payment in respect of holidays
.The cost value of cooked or uncooked food provided by the employer
Any other forms of remuneration as may be prescribed (by the ETF Act)
The following payments are not considered a part of earnings and
exempted from ETF:
Incentives, attendance, productivity or night
allowance,overtime,bonus and service charge
Forfeiture of gratuity
Question: Could you please
let me know whether gratuity could be forfeited and on what grounds can
it be forfeited?
Answer: The employer is entitled to make deductions from the
gratuity payable under the Gratuity Act in the following circumstances:-
the termination of services for reasons of fraud, misappropriation of
the employer’s funds.
the termination of services for willful damage to the property of the
the termination of services for causing the loss of goods, articles
or property of the employer.
The forfeiture can be made only to the extent of the damage or loss
caused. Loans and advances cannot be deducted from gratuity payments. A
Labour Tribunal can review the amount deducted from gratuity payments.
Number of lost deed
Question: A deed has been
misplaced 30 years before. It was owned by my mother . She has since
expired. She did not give any information regarding the said deed. The
land in question is being used illegally but there are no constructions.
Please help me to find out the number of the deed.
Answer: You have not
mentioned where the land is situated. All the lands have been assessed
by the relevant Local Authority and the owner has to pay rates to the
Local Body. So please go to the relevant Local Body and go through the
register and get the particulars regarding the deed and apply to the
relevant Land Registry and get the certified copy of deed and
encumbrance sheets, if necessary. You have not mentioned as to who pays
rates to the Local Body and whether you still got to the land and
maintain the boundary premises or boundaries.
You are the legal owner of the land if you have the deed and the land
is entered in the assessment register as yours. You have to find out
whether the man who uses the land, as mentioned by you in your letter,
objects to your entering the land. Otherwise he can always claim
prescriptive rights in his favour against you.
Question: I am a director
in a private company. I have employed a personal driver who has been
working with me for well over 20 years. I was paying his salary out of
my own funds. He has informed me that he would like to retire by the end
of June 2009 due to ill health. Is he entitled to get gratuity under the
Payment of Gratuity Act No.12 of 1983. Kindly advice me.
Answer: It is provided in Section 7 of the Payment of Gratuity Act
No.12 of 1983 that – if a workman is employed as a domestic servant or
as a personal chauffeur in a private household or entitled to a pension
under a non contributory pension scheme,will not qualify for any
gratuity. The chauffeur concerned was paid salary out of your own money
and not from the Company. In addition, he is not an employee of the
company. He will therefore not be entitled to any gratuity under the
Act. If he has been a loyal worker, you are free to make an ex-gratia
payment which is not a legal entitlement.
Question: My brother met with an accident two years ago and his leg
was broken due to this accident. The Magistrate’s Court case was over
and the driver of the vehicle was convicted. A civil case has been filed
at present and the case is pending. While the civil case is proceeding,
my brother met with another major accident and died on the spot.
Please let me know, in such a situation, whether the civil case will
be dismissed on the ground that the Plaintiff (my brother) is dead. My
parents are too old and they are not in a position to hang around in
courts. I am his only unmarried sister and my deceased brother was the
breadwinner in our family. Please advise us.
Answer: In such situations, your
parents or the deceased’s heirs can be substituted as a party to the
case and proceed with the civil case. Substitution should be made as
soon as possible before the next date of the case.
Further, we would like to advise your parents can also file another
civil case in respect of the 2nd major accident of your brother within
two years from the date of the accident. If you need further advice
regarding this matter you can any one of our Legal Aid Centers island
Question: I am 82 years
and of good sound mind. I have two children (son and daughter). They are
happily married and living in houses of their own. I still have
properties left in my name. I wish to give the said properties equally
to my two children after my death. Hence, I have decided to write a Last
Will so that after my death no problems will arise among my two
children. I would be thankful if you could kindly let me know the main
facts that have to be included in a Last Will. I await your early
Answer: You have the full right to transfer your property in
the manner you wish. The following main points could be included when
writing your Last Will.
A clear statement of the manner in which the assets should be
distributed should be included.
*If there are children of minor age a caretaker could be appointed.
Ideas relating to the manner in which funeral activities should be
performed could be included.
An executor could be appointed for the proper distribution of the
* In your case this is not necessary because your children are not
Registration of elders’ home
Question: We want to run
an elders’ home in our area. Where do we have to register it ?
Answer: According to Section 16 of the Protection of the
Rights of Elders (Amendment ) Act ,No 5 of 2011,you have to register
your home under the Elders Council . If not it is an offence under this
Act. Section 16 of the Act says that -
” 16(1) Every person or organization whether voluntary or otherwise ,
engaged in the establishment and maintenance of any institution intended
for providing residential care for Elders , shall if such institution
has more than five elders residing therein , register such institution
in accordence with the provision of this Act
Any person or organization who fails to comply with the provision of
subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence under this Act “
Therefore it is advisable to register it under this Act with the said
Council. The address is as follows :
Council of Elders - LHP Building, Nawala Road, Nugegoda.
Mediation Board Act
Question: Is there any recent Amendment introduced to the
Mediation Board Act No 72 of 1988
Answer : Yes, there is a recent Amendment to the Mediation Board Act
,No 72 of 1988.
That amendment is called Mediation Boards (Amendment) Act,No. 4 of
Section 7 of the Mediation Boards Act,No 72 of 1988 has been amended
in subseection (1) of that section as follows(1) By the substitution in
paragraph (a) of that Subsection for the words “ twenty five thousand
rupees in value “ of the words “ “ two hundread and fifty thousand
ruppies in value
by the substitution in paragraph (C) of that subsection for the words
“ second schedule to this act “ of the words “ second Schedule to this
act or : and
by the insertion immediately after paragraph (c) of that subsection,
of the following paragraph
“(d) the offence under section 367 or 368 B of the Penal Code is
committed by a person below the age of eighteen years , in respect of
any property , the value of which does not exceed rupees five thousand