- Petitioner is seeking to quash the purported Circular
By Lakmal Sooriyagoda
A lawyer yesterday filed a writ petition in Court of Appeal challenging the legality of new regulations pertaining to the new Government regulation that requires clearance from the Defence Ministry for marriages involving foreign nationals in Sri Lanka.
Attorney-at-Law Thishya Weragoda has filed this petition naming Registrar General W.M.M.B. Weerasekara, Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne and Health Ministry Secretary S.H. Munasinghe as respondents.
The petitioner is seeking a Writ of Certiorari to quash the purported Circular issued by the Registrar General.
The petitioner states that the freedom of every person to marry any person of choice is a right recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.
Petitioner states that the Petitioner is married to a foreign Citizen of Sri Lankan origin and the Petitioner’s minor children are foreign citizens at present. The Petitioner further states that the Petitioner’s wife has obtained dual citizenship in Sri Lanka.
The Petitioner states that, on or around 26th December 2021, an article was published in a Sunday Newspaper indicating that with effect from 1st January 2022, foreigners who are intending to marry locals would be required to obtain a “Defence Clearance Report” as a precondition to register their marriage in terms of the Marriage Registration Ordinance of 1907.
The Petitioner states that, ex facie, the Circular is ultra vires the powers of the Registrar General in terms of the Marriage Registration Ordinance.
The Petitioner states that even a person who suffers from HIV or any other chronic illness is entitled to marry if he or she so desires, and the government cannot restrict or deny such right merely based on the health status.
Section 23 of the Marriage Registration Ordinance of 1907 enacts the requirements of Notice for solemnization of a marriage. Section 24 sets out the form and requisites of the Notice that is required. The purported requirement sought to be imposed by the aforesaid circular necessarily adds two further requirements, namely, a “security clearance” and a “health declaration” to Section 24 of the Marriage Registration Ordinance of 1907.
The lawyer said it is obvious that neither the Registrar General nor any official at the Ministry of Defence or Ministry of Health has been empowered by the Constitution to impose such additional restrictions by creating “laws” restricting the exercises of fundamental rights by all persons, including foreigners.
- The petitioner states that the freedom of every person to marry any person of choice is a right recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Sri Lanka is a signatory