Justice Minister Ali Sabry yesterday said that he had no intention of amending the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance.
The Minister said that a number of people were accusing him of comparing that ordinance to a personal law and had equated it to the Muslim Marriages and Divorces Act (MMDA.)
“On 10 February 2021, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera asked me in Parliament whether I agreed that Article 16.1 of the Constitution needed to be changed. This Article stipulates that all existing written and unwritten law shall be valid and operative notwithstanding any inconsistency with the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution.”
Sabry said that in his response to the Thera, he had highlighted that if Article 16.1 was changed in an ad hoc manner a number of special laws would be affected. Among such laws was the Buddhist Temporalities Ordinance.
“Not only will personal laws be affected. If Article 16 is changed in a hurry a number of special laws won’t be valid anymore and when that happens the same people will blame me. Sri Lanka has a 2,500-year-old Buddhist heritage and there are many special laws that don’t cause any harm to others. Such laws don’t need to be changed.”
Therefore, there needed to be a careful study and lengthy discussions before article 16 was repealed, the Minister said, adding that amending laws took time and that was why there were delays in amending the MMDA.
“We all agree that marrying 12-year-old girls is bad and that 18 should be the minimum age of marriage. I believe that Muslim women should also sign in the marriage registry and that there should be gender equality in the MMDA. I have also proposed that face covering must not be allowed in public spaces. These have been sent to the Cabinet. But it takes time. We are working on amending the MMDA by a lot. That process is ongoing.”
(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)