Report on reform recommendations presented to Minister | Daily News
Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act

Report on reform recommendations presented to Minister

The report on the recommendations for reform to the 1951 Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act which was nine years in the making was finally submitted to Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala yesterday.

A Ministry Spokesperson informed the Daily News that the report was handed over at 11 am yesterday by Chairman of the Committee appointed to look into reforms, former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Saleem Marsoof.

Justice Marsoof’s Committee consisting of 16 members was appointed in 2009, by former Justice Minister Milinda Moragoda to ‘Consider and Propose Reforms to the Muslim Matrimonial Law and Upgrading of Quazi Courts in Sri Lanka’.

The handing over of the report came in the wake of a protest organised by civil society members and members of the Muslim Personal Law Reform and Action Group (MPLRAG) yesterday morning before the Ministry of Justice, asking that the Committee release the report.

MPLRAG member Hassanah Cegu Izzadeen speaking to the Daily News said they also demanded that the report be made public, the ministry invite women’s groups and women affected by the MMDA for consultations and to provide the general public with a timeline over which amendments would be drafted into legislation and submitted to Parliament.

The Act which applies to all Muslim men and women who enter into marriage, disproportionally discriminates women at the time of registration as well as divorce; does not include a minimum age for marriage; bars women from positions of Quazi judges, marriage registrars and other key posts in the Quazi court and allows for polygamy without consent.

In October 2016 a Cabinet Sub-Committee was appointed to make proposals to amend the MMDA. The committee is expected to await recommendations from the report before they can work making recommendations to be legislated and submitted to Parliament.

The Cabinet Sub Committee consists of Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala, Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Rauff Hakeem, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathuideen, Provincial and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha, Muslim Affairs and Postal Services Minister M.H.M. Haleem, Women and Child Affairs Minister Chandrani Bandara and Water Supply and Drainage Deputy Minister Dr.Sudharshani Fernandopulle.

In a press release issued by the Ministry, it was stated that even though the MMDA requires amendments to many provisions pertaining to marriage and divorce, a special attention has been given to the minimum age of marriage.


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