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Justice Minister suggests abolition of all Kandyan, Thesawalamai and Muslim laws through new Constitution

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By Saman Indrajith

Making use of personal laws prevailing in a country at present to attack a single community would not be approved by any civilized nation, Justice Minister Ali Sabry told Parliament yesterday.

“It is so unfortunate that practices of those laws have become a tagline or a slogan for campaigns intended to raise hatred and disharmony among communities,” the Minister said.

Responding to a series of questions raised by Our Power of People’s Party National List MP Ven Aturaliye Ratana Thera, Minister Sabry said that personal laws in the country had evolved over centuries. The One Law One Country concept of the government was being implemented in spirit and in letter to promote the Sri Lankan national identity, the Minister said.

“There are several personal laws in this country. Among them are the Kandyan Marriage and Divorce Act, the Jaffna Thesawalamai Law, the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, the Buddhist Temporalities Act and the Church of Ceylon Act. The Muslim law has been recognised as a personal law in many other countries, including India, the Philippines, Israel and Singapore. The Muslim laws are not solely made on the basis of the Quran. It was first recognised as the Mohammadan Code among other personal laws such as the Kandyan Law and the Theswalamai law in 1806. Thereafter, these laws evolved with time. For example, until 1938 amendments to the Kandyan law polyandry and polygamy were accepted in law. It is asked whether the Muslim law permits the marrying off of underage Muslim girls without their consent. This is not true. Such marriages are registered with their consent and only their fathers place their signature on registration documents on their behalf too after ascertaining the consent of the girl. In some states in the US the minimum age for marriage is 13, while in some provinces in Japan it is 15. Until 1997, here in Sri Lanka, that age was 16 years. According to Sections 8 to 15 of the Kandyan Law and the Section 22 of the Marriage Ordinance an underage marriage is accepted if the marrying children have the consent of their parents. There had been many such mismatches in the law until the Court intervened in 2002 and gave an order that the minimum age for marriage should be 18 years. Even in Saudi Arabia the minimum age of marriage is 18 now. We too have accepted that the minimum age of marriage should be set 18. I submitted a Cabinet paper in Nov 2020 to that effect. There I have also proposed the amending of the laws enabling females to act as Quazi judges and that the females getting married should place their signature in the registration documents. In addition, I have set up an advisory committee to amend Muslim laws and when their recommendations are ready they will be announced to the community so that people too could submit their proposals. We will consider all of them in amending the laws. I am against the marriages under the age of 18. There is also another fact that around 80 percent of underage mothers are not reported from the Muslim community but from other communities. That means they have become mothers even if their marriages are not registered.”

Minister Sabry said that achieving one law one country could not be achieved by doing away with personal laws of Muslim community only; there was the possibility of abolishing all personal laws at once and that could be done through the new Constitution being drafted, he added.



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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign

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… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds

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Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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