Criminal Justice System Of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon until 1972, is a tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean lying off the southeast coast of peninsular India. It has the total land area of 65 607 square kilometres, and the total population of 16.1 million (as of 1986).
The annual population growth rate is estimated at 1.7%.
The two principal linguistic (racial) groups in Sri Lanka are the Sinhalese (74%) and the Tamils (18.2%).
Also, approximately 7.1% of the population are of the Arabic origin, who are mentioned as the Sri Lankan Moors. As for the religious groups, approximately 69.3% of the people are Buddhists, most of whom are the Sinhalese, and 15.5% are Hindus, who are mostly the Tamils. Besides, 7.6% are Muslims and 6.8% are Christians of various denominations.
As for the structure of the government, Sri Lanka became independent in 1948, and is now an independent republic within the commonwealth nations. The national law making body is the Parliament, formerly called the National State Assembly or the House of Representatives, which is, as of 1986, composed of 168 seats. The members of the Parliament are elected by the Sri Lankan citizens aged 18 years or older. The head of the Republic is represented by the President, who is directly elected by the citizens aged 18 years or older. The term of the President is also for 6 years.
The cabinet is led by the Prime Minister who is appointed by the President from among the Parliament members. As of 1986, the cabinet is composed of 49 ministerial posts, excluding the Prime Minister.
... Realization at just 21 years old, he met his sat guru (teacher), Yogaswami, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The 72-year-old sage gave ... historic centenary Parliament of the World's Religions in September, 1993, Gurudeva was elected one of three presidents, along with ... one billion-strong Hindu faith (fully one-sixth of the world population). The Church's ministry is dedicated to nurturing the membership ...
The entire nation is divided into 25 administrative regions as of 1986. Each region is governed by the Government Agent, who is appointed by the central government.
The economy of the country is still precariously dependent on the exports of its plantation products such as tea, rubber and coconuts. GNP per capita was US$354 as of 1986. The unit of the national currency is Rupee (Re or Rs).
BASIS OF CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE
According to the colonisation by the British Empire, the British laws were gradually applied throughout the nation. However, due to the unsatisfactory state of the then existing criminal laws which led to a state of uncertainty, the Penal Code of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, was first enacted in 1833. It is said that the Law was based on the corresponding Indian law. This Penal Code holds good up to now with several amendments.
The Penal Code embodies categories of offences, the punishments to which offenders are liable under the Code and general exceptions to criminal liability.
The broad categories of offences are: offences against the state, offences against public tranquillity, offences affecting the human body, offences against property, offences relating to religion, sexual and marital offences and offences relating to coins and government stamps.
Punishments prescribed under the Penal Code are: death, imprisonment (simple and rigourous), whipping, forfeiture of property and fine.
The principal general exceptions to criminal liability recognised by the Code are: insanity, intoxication, necessity, duress and private defence.
The minimum age of criminal responsibility is eight years. A child under eight years of age is considered incapable of possessing `mens rea’. Those over eight years but under twelve years are not punished unless they have attained sufficient maturity.
As for criminal procedure, the first law of this kind was the Criminal Procedure Code of 1882, which was replaced by the Criminal Procedure Ordinance of 1898. In 1974, the Administration of Justice Law was introduced but it was only operated for 4 years. The present law is the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, which was enacted in 1979. Also, the Judicature Act was enacted in 1978, which provides the basis of judiciary administration.
This week I had the opportunity to sit in on criminal court proceedings. I chose to visit the White Plains Court House for the day and noticed quite a few things through out the whole experience. I have been to different courts in the past, criminal, traffic, and family, but never in the White Plains building. There were many details of the proceedings, the image, and even the conditions of ...
Among other significant crime-related special legislations are: the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the Explosive Ordinance, the Firearm Ordinance, the Offensive Weapons Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and the Offences Against Aircraft Act.
As for the courts system, the procedure and functions of the criminal courts are today governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure Act and the Judicature Act. The Magistrate’s Court is the criminal court to deal with most of the offences, and the Primary Court also deals with some minor criminal cases.
According to the law, certain grave offences such as murder, attempted murder and rape are tried in the High Court. A case in the High Court is handled by judge and jury or by judge alone. The jury is composed of 7 jurors, elected at random from the jury list.
The appeal or the second instance of criminal trial is conducted by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court exercise final appellate jurisdiction as well as special jurisdiction for alleged violations of fundamental rights and freedom guaranted under the Constitution. The Supreme Court consists of 11 justices including the Chief Justice.
The justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the Appeal and High Courts are appointed by the President; the judges of the lower courts are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission. The Commission is the judiciary administrative body which is composed of three Supreme Court Justices headed by the Chief Justice.
Most of the prosecution against criminal cases are conducted by the investigation officers, namely the police themselves. However, as far as those serious offences to be tried in the High Court are concerned, or whenever it deems necessary, the public prosecutors, who are entitled as the State Councils or the State Attorneys, shall prosecute the cases. These public prosecutors are under the Attorney-General’s Department and supervised by the Attorney-General, who is appointed by the President.