Long awaited Muslim Personal Law reforms in November | Daily News

Long awaited Muslim Personal Law reforms in November

The long awaited report on Muslim Personal Law (MPL) reforms is expected to be released by early November.

Justice Saleem Marsoof speaking to the Daily News said, “We have reached an agreement on most things and by end of October I hope to get it signed by all the Committee members.

Thus the report should be available by early November”.

In 2009, former Justice Minister, Milinda Moragoda appointed a 16 member committee to “Consider and Propose Reforms to the Muslim Matrimonial Law and Upgrading of Qazi Courts in Sri Lanka”. Seven years later, the Committee was yet to produce a final report on their findings.

“Minister Moragoda wanted a report in six months but at that time, we were facing a deadlock on many issues as the more extreme members did not see eye to eye with more liberal viewpoints,” Justice Marsoof said as he explained the reasons for the delay.

Regimes have changed twice since 2009 and the Committee continued to function under various Justice Ministers since Moragoda. “We have had to carry on with our own funds. The consecutive ministers did not want to reappoint the Committee as it was already appointed and they simply asked us to release the report when we were ready,” Justice Marsoof said.

Recently however, women’s groups and activists have been pushing for the release of the report. With the process of making a new Constitution currently underway, the report is expected to throw light into various injustices faced by Muslim women when it comes to marriage and divorce. Groups have also pushed for the repeal of Article 16 to the Constitution which allows personal laws to supersede the Constitution even when it discriminates fundamental rights of women and minorities.

Among subjects which are expected to receive redress through the MPL reforms report are; the setting of a legal age for marriage, the need for the appointment of female Quazis, adequate compensation during divorce and a more gender equitable Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act. 

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