Legal aid commission
Compiled by Kalani A. Medagoda, AAL
Elders Law amendment
Sri Lanka is one of the first countries in South Asia to enact an
Elders' Protection Law when Parliament unanimously passed the Protection
of Elders Law No.9 of 2000. On humanitarian non-partisan national issues
like challenges the country faces with the fastest aging population in
Asia, all political parties need to develop consensus which was achieved
in Parliament in 2000 when enacting the Elders Law. The consensual
spirit continued for few months when major parties joined the government
in discussing a draft Constitution for the country but broke down when
transitional arrangements were discussed.
The Elders Law laid the foundation for development of a progressive
national policy on elders and on Elders Charter under the leadership of
the National Council of Elders.
LAC Chairman S.S. Wijeratne addressing the elders at Galle
on the International Day for Elders.
However, resource constraints have hampered meaningful implementation
of the national policy in areas, such as developing a comprehensive
social security system for senior citizens or convincing health and
pharma authorities to develop easy accessibility policy to essential
elders' drawings or getting the provincial councils in whose purview the
empowerment of elders come to establish sufficient day care centers and
hospices in the respective provinces.
The primary reason for the neglect of elders' issues in this country
was the countries pre-occupation with 26 years terrorist war which
threatened not only the aged but the very existence of 25 centuries old
Sri Lankan nation as a single country.
The defeat of terrorism in May 2009, have now opened the door for the
authorities to pay sufficient attention to an estimated 2.4 million
elders in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan elders have lost 26 years of their life
span as they wee pre-occupied with their security and with safety of
their kith and kin during that dark period and could breathe an
unmitigated sigh of relief in their final decades of their lives.
An Amendment to the Elders Law after years of deliberation has been
tabled in Parliament and is due for the second reading in the coming
weeks. It is hoped that the amendment is enacted. The Amendment inter
alia contains three important provisions. They are -
(1) Legal recognition of 10,000 village level Elders Committees which
are the primary source of elders self empowerment.
(2) Legal recognition of the Elders Identity Card which entitles
elders easy access to hospitals, post offices and other public places.
The certificate would provide legal proof to obtain benefit from special
interests program from the Banks such as the "Parinatha" scheme of the
People's Bank and elders discount in pharmaceuticals offered by the
(3) Prohibition of age based discrimination of elders with punishment
to the offenders who flout the law.
These provisions are not earth shattering but will contribute to
restore the dignity of 2.4 million elders. In the past, the political
leaders with the exception of one or two have chosen to ignore the
elders' voice previously.
That was perhaps the reason why the proposals by the National Council
of Elders to increase the retirement age to 65 years or the proposal to
provide a universal pension scheme for elders like in Nepal was
summarily dismissed and laughed at by the technical advisors to the
It is not late at least to provide some financial security to the
oldest of the old some 450,000 Sri Lankans who are over 80 years of age.
The National Council resolved in its last meeting to recommend this
humanitarian step to the authorities.
Public Legal Awareness Unit
LAC celebrates Universal Children's Day at Medawachchiya
In 1954 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a motion of a
Grade 8 student, Rubab Mansoor, to declare November 20 as the Universal
Children's Day to celebrate childhood all over the world.
Sri Lanka, in addition to launching child rights promotion activities
on International Day for Children on October 01 initiates manifold
activities to celebrate Children's Day by fostering mutual understanding
among the children of different ethnic, religious and cultural
backgrounds. The special national program 'Tharunyata Hetak' spearheaded
by Namal Rajapaksa has conducted child empowerment programs even among
the displaced children in the Vavuniya district.
The Legal Aid Commission conducts an annual child talent contest on
Universal Children's Day. In 2008, 168 schools in the Southern Province
participated and received prizes and recognition at the President's
College at Hambantota. This year the LAC has shifted its programs to
schools in Medawachchiya which include Sinhala and Tamil medium
children. This will give the children of these schools the chance to
develop their talents to full capacity and celebrate the childhood lost
during the terrorist war and also afford an opportunity to display their
undeveloped talents in speech, drama, art and writing contests. Thus the
focus this year is on "Rediscovering childhood" which the children in
the periphery of the conflict areas have lost over the past so many
The prize-giving will be held tomorrow at Medawachchiya Maha
Vidyalaya under the patronage of LAC Chairman S.S. Wijeratne and
Director-General Justice Hector S Yapa.
Questions and Answers
Question: As a responsible citizen of Sri Lanka, I would like
to know -
(a) What is a public petition?
(b) How can public petitions be sent?
(c) The rules, if any.
Your kind reply would be greatly appreciated.
Answer: (a) Any citizen could send a petition to Parliament
for the redress of a grievance. The popularity of Public Petitions is
evident by the large number of petitions received by the Speaker.
(b) The petitions have to be presented to the Speaker by a Member of
Parliament through the Secretary General of Parliament. However, only
private members (those who do not hold ministerial portfolios) can move
public petitions. The petitions should be in respectful language and
devoid of irrelevant statements. They should be clear and legible and
conclude with a request mentioning the relief sought. The petition has
to be duly signed by the petitioners and their full names and addresses
should be included.
(c) The petitioners are not allowed to attach any affidavits or
documents to their petitions. In a petition, no reference shall be made
to any parliamentary debate. The Members who are in charge of the
petitions must sign them before they are presented. Only private members
(those who do not hold ministerial portfolios) can move public
petitions. However, since recently even Ministers have submitted
Law of affidavits in Sri Lanka
Question: I want to find out the law relating to Affidavits in
Sri Lanka and in what instances can Affidavits be used. Please explain.
Answer: The Law of Affidavits in Sri Lanka is covered by the
Affidavits Act No.23 of 1953 and Oaths and Affirmation Ordinance Nos.9
of 1895, 22 of 1915 and Act No.13 of 1954, but the Ordinance does not
define what an affidavit is. Therefore, one has to look into legal
literature to ascertain a definition.
An affidavit has become a common document in Sri Lanka, and is known
and used in various transactions in day to day life,
for instance when a child is to be admitted to a school the parents
will have to tender an affidavit to prove that the documents tendered by
them are true and correct, to the school authorities.
When a pawn receipt is lost the bank requires an affidavit to the
effect that the document is lost and that the original cannot be found,
and that the bank is indemnified in redeeming the article pawned.
An error in a birth certificate can be rectified, for limited
purposes, by tendering an affidavit.
In law, an affidavit is a written statement that you swear is true,
and that can be used in court.
Question: I want to find out whether there is a procedure in
asking questions in the Parliament? If so, the rules. Your kind reply
would be greatly appreciated.
Answer: The vital role of Parliament is performed mainly by
asking questions from Cabinet Ministers. A question may seek to obtain
information or an assurance from a Cabinet Minister on matters for which
he bears responsibility.
The procedure in asking questions is that the Member desiring to ask
a question should handover the text to the Table Office in Parliament
giving seven days notice to the Minister.
Before a question can be placed on the Order Paper, it must satisfy a
comprehensive set of rules governing its content. Some of them are as
(a) It should either seek information or press for action.
(b) It must relate to a matter for which the Minister to whom it is
addressed is responsible as Minister.
(c) It should be written in respectful language.
(d) It should not exceed one hundred and fifty words.
(e) It should not refer to any matter currently under adjudication by
a court of law.
(f) A question fully answered must not be asked again during the same
According to the current practice 15 questions are listed on the day
on the Order Paper and only three questions can be asked by any one
member on any one day. Usually a period of approximately 30 minutes is
set aside for questions. However, in practice this has turned out to be
a 'flexi hour' and the Speaker would allow all questions to be raised
and answered even though it would exceed the prescribed time limit.
Question: I am a Government pensioner. I have two unmarried
daughters. One is mentally retarded and other girl is normal. My husband
died five years ago. I have contributed to the W&OP benefits. I want to
know, after my death, can I transfer my pension to my two unmarried
Answer: If you are already a Government pensioner, under the
W&OP Act your disabled daughter can get the disabled pension during her
lifetime after your death. Your other unmarried daughter can get your
pension till she is 26 years old.
Under the Pension Minutes and Circulars, widow of pensioner/ officer,
unemployed unmarried female children who are less than 26 years,
unemployed male children who are less than 26 years can get the W&OP
Contributing to any pension scheme?
Question: I am doing a good job in a reputed company and would
like to have a pension during my old age. I heard that the Social
Security Board has introduced several pension schemes. Can I contribute
to any one of those schemes? How can I get information regarding this
Answer: The Social Security Board has introduced several
pension schemes for those people who are not Government pensioners. You
can contribute to any one of these pension schemes. If you need further
details regarding this matter, you can get in touch with the Social
Security Board at the following address:
Is it possible to revoke a nomination made earlier?
Question: When I first obtained employment in a Private
Company, I was unmarried. As such, I nominated my parents as nominees to
receive my EPF benefits. I am now married. Will it be possible to revoke
the nomination made earlier and nominate my wife? I await your kind
Answer: A member could revoke a nomination made earlier and
Form "I" should be used for this purpose. If a subsequent nomination is
required Form "J" should be perfected and forwarded to the District
Labour Office situated in close proximity to the establishment.
Upon the marriage of a member, nomination made before marriage
becomes cancelled and null and void. On the death of a nominee, the
right of the nominee stands revoked.
If the nominee is a minor a trustee could be appointed to function on
his behalf. Refund of benefits could be paid to him and when the
nominated minor becomes an adult on completion of 18 years, the
appointment of the trustee will automatically get cancelled.
On the death of a member without a valued nomination, the refund of
benefits will be made to the heirs of the deceased member.
Contributions to EPF?
Question: My brother is working in a Mercantile Firm on a
temporary basis after his return from abroad. He is holding an Executive
post in the said Firm. I wish to know whether the nature of
appointment/status of an employee affect contributions to the EPF? I
await your kind reply.
Answer: While the nature of employment or status is immaterial,
employers have to make contributions to the provident fund in respect of
employees who are permanent, non-permanent, temporary, apprentice,
casual, working few hours with intermittent breaks and working less than
a day. Contributions to the Provident Fund should also be made for those
who are employed on piece rate basis, contract basis, commission basis
or unit (output) basis although the payments made by cash or a by any
other form. The payable contribution to the Fund has to be calculated
upto the extent of the value of the payment to the member.
Decisions of Wages Boards
Question - I am told that decisions of the Wages Boards should
be exhibited in the workplace for the employees to know their
entitlements. Is this position correct? Please advise.
Answer - Yes. It should be exhibited. The notice showing the
decisions should be substantially in Form II under Regulation 25 of the
Refund of benefits on grounds of marriage
Question - I hope to get married early next year and leave
employment. Kindly let me know whether I will be eligible to receive
refund of benefits? Also please let me know the procedure to claim same.
Your early reply will be greatly appreciated.
Answer - Women employee who ceases employment, under one of
the two grounds given below, will become eligible to receive refund of
i. If marriage had been registered before the expiry of three (3)
months from the date of cessation of employment, or
ii. Cessation of employment before expiry of 5 years after
registration of marriage.
Female employees under these two categories become eligible for
refund of benefits.
They should duly perfect Part 1 of the "K" Form and Part II of the
Form should be duly certified by the Employer and forward with the
(a) A certified copy of the Marriage Certificate issued by the
Registrar of Marriage who registered the marriage or Marriage
Certificate issued by the Additional District Registrar.
(b) A Certificate issued by the Grama Sevaka countersigned by the
District Secretary to the effect that the marriage did take place.
Complaints against post office
Question: I am residing away from Colombo. My two children are
abroad and very often they (children) send us parcels (small packages)
from abroad. They also send us money through registered post. I have a
bitter experience that some of the parcels sent to us have not been
received by us. Please let me know where to complain and how complaints
should be made in this regard. I await your kind reply.
Answer: Complaints should, in the first instance, be addressed
to the Postmaster of the office concerned, unless the matter complained
of is of such importance as to call for an independent investigation. If
the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken by the Postmaster
or for other reasons desires an independent investigation, he should
address the Chief Postmaster, Chief Telegraph Master or Divisional
Superintendent concerned or the Postmaster General. Complaints on
matters of special importance should always be addressed direct to the
A list of Post Offices in the island will be found in alphabetical
order in the Inland Post and Telecommunication Directory in Part II, and
against each office, in column 11 is shown the Postal Division. The
indicators in column 2 are explained on pages 1-5 of Part II of the
"Post Office Guide".
Complaints made by the senders of registered or insured articles or
by the remitters of Money Orders should be accompanied by copies of the
receipts granted by the Post Office, and complaints from the senders of
unregistered articles of the loss of the articles should furnish the
certificate of posting, where one has been obtained, or such information
as may be available to establish the actual posting of the articles,
such as -
(1) the date and hour of posting,
(2) the locality of the letter box in which posted,
(3) the full address on the article, and
(4) the person by whom posted.
In many complaints it is found that articles entrusted to messengers
or servants are never actually posted, or are not posted at the time
believed, or that the posting is uncertain.
In all cases of loss of the contents of an article, the cover or
wrapper should accompany the complaint, and a full description of the
missing contents should be given; if the missing contents are currency
notes, the serial letters and numbers and general numbers of the notes
should be given. In all cases of damage to the contents of an article,
the contents and the wrapper, cover, or package should accompany the
Complaints of delay in the delivery of articles should be accompanied
by the original covers or wrappers.
In a complaint regarding the Savings Bank, the number of the Pass
Book and the name of the office at which the first deposit was made
should always be given.
Complaints of overcharge on articles, the delivery of which has been
accepted, should be addressed to the Postmaster of the office of
delivery, to whom the article should be taken or sent before it is
Complaints regarding the wrong payment or non-payment of a Money
Order cannot be attended to unless preferred within twelve months of the
date of issue of the Money Order.
Other complaints cannot be attended to unless preferred within six
months of the date of the occurrence to which they relate, of the date
of its issue.