Leading Buddhist Monks demand action against Justice Minister

Mohamed Ali Sabry PC/Facebook

ECONOMYNEXT- Eleven leading Buddhist Monks have written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa asking him to take action regarding a statement made by Justice and Prisons Reform Minister Mohamed Ali Sabry in Parliament last week over the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance.

The Monks, all politically active figures, have stated in their letter that the minister has cited the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance and a few other laws as personal laws in the Sri Lankan Statute.

Ali Sabry, responding to a question asked by MP Athureliye Rathana Thero on February 12 said that there were several personal laws operative in Sri Lanka.

In his reply, Ali Sabry had given the Kandyan Marriage and Divorce Act, Kandyan Succession Ordinance, Jaffna Matrimonial Rights and Inheritance Ordinance, Thesawalamai law, Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, Muslim Interstate Succession Ordinance, Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance, Hindu Cultural Fund Act, Muslim Mosques And Charitable Trusts Or Wakfs Act and Church of Ceylon Act as the personal laws which exist in Sri Lanka.

In their letter to the President, the monks have said that according to the book An Introduction to the Legal System of Sri Lanka by Leonard James Mark Cooray which is recommended to the law students in the country, Kandyan law, Thesawalamai law and Muslim Law are the laws which are considered as personal laws in Sri Lanka.

The letter also states since Kandyan law and Thesawalamai law are considered regional laws only Muslim law is the only law that can be considered as personal law as per the definition.

Moreover, the letter said that the laws such as the Temporalities Ordinance, Hindu Cultural Fund Act, Muslim Mosques and Charitable Trusts or Wakfs Act and Church of Ceylon Act were implemented by the parliament regarding the financial management of these bodies in order to maintain some regulation and control.

“It is sad to see an individual who does not have the minimum understanding of what will happen if such religious institutions and the laws governing their financial control are repealed under the guise of personal law is holding a responsible ministerial portfolio,” the letter said.

And it also added that the Minister of Justice should be informed that the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance is a law attached to Article 9 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka

Further, Justice Minister told Parliament that by only abolishing the Muslims laws the concept one country one law cannot be achieved but all the personal laws should be abolished.

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The Letter by the Buddhist monks said that the one country one law policy is expected to remove the challenges and injustices faced by the people and give everyone equal opportunity and protection before the law.

But it said that through the Muslim Marriages and Divorce Act Muslim women face injustice when compared to others and that it is wrong to deny them the rights women of other religions enjoy.

The letter also said that the hope of the 6.9 million people who voted to bring the current government to power to enforce one law in the country, so the Buddhist monks requested the President to take action against the Justice Minister for his incorrect and irresponsible statement.

Copying the same letter to the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, they urged him to expunge Ali Sabry’s statement from the Hansard.

Among the signatories to the letter are Prof Medagoda Abeytissa, Muruththetuwe Ananda and Elle Gunawansa Theros (Colombo/Feb22/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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