MUSLIM MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE ACT

Arrangement of Sections

1.        Short title.

2.        Application of Act.

PART I

PRELIMINARY

3.        Supervisory powers of Registrar-General and District Registrars.

4.        The Muslim Marriage and Advisory Board.

5.        Nominated members of the Board.

6.        Function of the Board.

7.        Meetings of the Board.

8.        Registrars of Muslim Marriages.

9.        Temporary Registrars.

10.      Special Registrars.

11.      Registration of marriages outside area of appointment.

12.      Qazis.

13.      Temporary Qazis.

14.      Special Qazis.

15.      Board or Qazis.

PART II

REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGES

16.      Validity or invalidity of Muslim marriages.

17.      Duty of causing marriages to be registered.

18.      Declaration and form of registration.

19.      Entries of marriage to be signed and attested.

19A.   Issue of copy of registration entry free.

20.      Marriages to be registered and numbered consecutively.

21.      Attendance of Registrar at marriage.

22.      Marriage during iddat not to be registered.

23.      Marriage of girl who has not attained the age of twelve not to be registered without Quazi’s permission.

24.      Second or subsequent marriages.

25.      Declaration of Shaffie law as to marriage of women of that sect.

26.      Wali of bride.

PART III

REGISTRATION OF DIVORCES

27.      Divorce by husband.

28.      Divorce by wife.

29.      Registration of divorce.

PART IV

SPECIAL PROVISION FOR EARLIER DIVORCES AND REMARRIAGES

30.      Registration of divorces in cases where proof of divorce is inadequate.

31.      Effect of registration of divorce or remarriage.

32.      Power to register marriages and divorces omitted to be registered and to rectify errors in registration.

33.      Certain powers of District Registrar under section 32 exercisable by Registrar-General.

34.      Claims for wife’s maintenance.

35.      Claims for child’s maintenance.

36.      Orders for payment of maintenance from date of claim.

37.      Representation of woman in claiming for mahr or kaikuli.

38.      Disposal of money received by Qazi in claims where party is represented under section 37.

39.      Prescription of action for mahr.

PART VI

POWERS AND DUTIES OF REGISTRAR-GENERAL, DISTRICT REGISTRARS, BOARD
OF QUAZIS, QUAZIS AND REGISTRARS

40.      Power of Registrar-General and District Registrars to inspect registers.

41.      Power of District Registrar to dispose of money paid under section 52.

42.      Duty of District Registrar to cause copies of Qazis’ entries to be bound.

43.      Power of Board of Qazis to call for records.

44.      Revisory powers of Board of Qazis.

45.      Duty of Board of Qazis to furnish Registrar-General with opinions on questions of Muslim law.

46.      Duty of Board of Qazis to advise on questions of law submitted by a Quazi.

47.      General powers of Qazis.

48.      Qazi to have exclusive jurisdiction to inquire into matters specified in section 47.

49.      Qazis’ oath of office.

50.      Power of Quazi to administer oaths.

51.      Qazis to enter into security bonds.

52.      Qazis to keep record of money received and paid by them.

53.      Qazis to report to District Registrar sums deposited or withdrawn under section 38.

54.      Qazis to send copies of entries and indexes to District Registrar each month.

55.      Qazis and Registrars to keep indexes of books and registers.

56.      Custody of register by Qazis and Registrars.

57.      Muslim assessor’s oath.

58.      Duty to send to District duplicates from marriage and divorce registers.

59.      Fees chargeable by Registrars.

PART VII

APPEALS

60.      Appeals from Qazis’ orders.

61.      Appeals from the Registrar-General’s or District Registrars’ orders.

62.      Appeals to Court of Appeal.

63.      Appeal not withstanding lapse of time

PART VIII

ENFORCEMENT OF ORDERS

64.      Recovery of sums due on claims, under section 47 other than claims for mahr or kaikuli.

65.      Recovery of sums due on claims for mahr or kaikuli.

66.      Procedure on failure of orders for maintenance.

PART IX

GENERAL

67.      Transfer of proceedings from one Qazi to another.

68.      Registers and indexes to be open to inspection.

69.      Records kept under earlier law to be open to inspection.

70.      Registers and copies to be evidence.

71.      Entry in the register of marriages or in the register of divorces to be best evidence.

72.      Books to be supplied free.

73.      Members of the Board of Qazis, Secretary to the Board of Qazis and Qazis deemed to be public servants.

74.      Representation of parties and witnesses before Qazis.

75.      Duty of police officers and Grama Seva Niladharis to assist Qazis.

76.      Damage of duplicate and original entries, and reconstruction of duplicate and original entries.

77.      Correction of clerical errors in registers.

78.      Forms.

PART X

OFFENCES AND PENALTIES

79.      Penalty for destruction of registers.

80.      Penalty for incestuous marriage.

81.      Penalty for offences relating to marriage, divorce.

82.      Penalty for registering marriage in contravention of section 22, section 23 or section 24(4).

83.      Penalty for unauthorised registration of marriage, divorce.

84.      Penalty for Qazi’s failure to pay money to person entitled.

85.      Penalty for making false statement in declaration.

86.      Penalty for breach of duty by Registrars.

87.      Penalty for registration of marriage contracted during iddat.

88.      Penalty for failure to deliver registers to District Registrar.

89.      Penalty for intermeddling with suitors.

90.      Penalty for failure to discharge duty imposed by section 75.

91.      Penalty for refusing to sign register or to provide necessary stamps.

92.      General penalty.

93.      Misconduct while the Board of Qazis or a Qazi is sitting.

PART XI

SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS

94.      Regulations.

95.      Saving of actions in Civil Courts.

96.      Construction of references to District Registrar.

97.      Interpretation.

PART XII

SAVINGS AND TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

98.      Saving of Muslim-law of marriage and divorce.

99.      Savings.

SCHEDULES

41 of 1975,

13 of 1951,

31 of 1954,

22 of 1955,

1 of 1965,

5 of 1965,

32 of 1969,

40 of 2006,

24 of 2013.

AN ACT to make provision with respect to the Marriages and Divorces of Muslims in Sri Lanka and, in particular, with respect to the registration of such marriages and divorces.

[Date of Commencement: 1st August, 1954]

1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act.

2. Application of Act.

This Act shall apply only to the marriages and divorces, and other matters connected therewith, of those inhabitants of Sri Lanka who are Muslims.

PART I

PRELIMINARY

3. Supervisory powers of Registrar-General and District Registrars.

The Registrar-General shall, subject to the directions of the Minister, have the general control and superintendence of the registration of marriages and divorces under this Act, and every District Registrar shall, subject to the directions of the Registrar-General, have the control and supervision of the registration of such marriages and divorces within his district.

4. The Muslim Marriage and Advisory Board.

(1) For the purposes of this Act, there shall be established a Board, to be called The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Advisory Board”.

(2) The Board shall consist of the person for the time being holding the office of Registrar-General, who shall be the Chairman of the Board, and of not less than four not more than nine Muslims (hereinafter referred to as “nominated members”) nominated by the Minister.

5. Nominated members of the Board.

(1) Every nominated member of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Advisory Board shall, unless he earlier resigns his office as a member or is removed from office by the Minister, hold office for such period not exceeding three years as may be specified by the Minister at the time of the nomination of that member.

(2) A nominated member who vacates his office by effluxion of time shall be eligible for re-nomination to the Board.

(3) The Minister may remove any nominated member from office if he is satisfied that such member, without leave of the Board first obtained, has failed to attend three consecutive meetings of the Board:

Provided that the preceding provisions of this subsection shall not be deemed in any way to limit the power of the Minister to remove a nominated member from office for any other cause.

6. Function of the Board.

It shall be the function of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Advisory Board to advise the Registrar-General on all such matters relating to or connected with the administration of this Act as may be referred by the Registrar-General to the Board for such advice or in respect of which the Board may think fit to tender advice.

7. Meetings of the Board.

(1) The Chairman of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Advisory Board shall preside at all meetings of the Board at which he is present. In the absence of the Chairman from any meeting of the Board the members present shall elect one of themselves to preside at that meeting.

(2) Four members of the Board shall form the quorum for any meeting of the Board.

(3) The Registrar-General may appoint an officer of his department to be or to act as the Secretary of the Board and it shall be the duty of the Secretary to keep minutes of each meeting of the Board.

(4) Subject to the provisions of this Act and any regulations made thereunder, the Board may regulate its own procedure.

8. Registrars of Muslim Marriages.

(1) The Registrar-General may, on application made in that behalf, appoint as a Registrar of Muslim Marriages any male Muslim who, in the opinion of the Registrar-General, is a fit and proper person to register marriages under this Act, and may, on payment of the prescribed fee, issue to him a certificate of appointment.

(2) The number of Registrars that may be appointed under this section for any district shall be in the discretion of the Registrar-General.

(3) Every certificate of appointment under this section shall be made out.in foil and counterfoil, substantially in form I set out in the First Schedule, and shall specify the particular area in which the person named in the certificate is authorised to register marriages under this Act.

(4) The prescribed fee for a certificate of appointment under this section shall be paid in stamps, which shall be supplied by the applicant and shall be affixed to the counterfoil and duly cancelled by the Registrar-General.

(5) A list of the Registrars appointed under this section shall be made and preserved in the office of, the Registrar-General.

(6) Every Registrar appointed under this section shall reside within the area specified in his certificate of appointment as the area in which he is authorised to register marriages.

(7) The Registrar-General may, in his discretion, by order cancel any appointment made under this section and recall the certificate relating to such appointment,

(8) A person shall be disqualified from being appointed or continuing as a Registrar, if he—

(abecomes a Member of Parliament; or

(bbecomes a Member of a Provincial Council; or

(cbecomes a Member of a local authority; or

(dis holding any paid office under the Republic; or

(eis engaged in a profession that would prejudicially affect the duties of a Registrar.

[S 8(8) ins by s 2 of Act 40 of 2006.]

(9) Where any Registrar becomes disqualified by virtue of subsection (8), the Registrar-General shall have the power to remove such person from the post of Registrar with the approval of the Minister by Order published in the Gazette, and such removal shall take effect on the date specified in such Order.

[S 8(9) ins by s 2 of Act 40 of 2006.]

(10) In the event of a vacancy occurring in the post of Registrar as a result of any resignation or any removal from office, any other person shall, having regard to the provisions of section 8, be appointed to fill the vacancy.

[S 8(10) ins by s 2 of Act 40 of 2006.]

9. Temporary Registrars.

(1) Where a Registrar appointed under section 8 is temporarily absent from the area in which he is authorised to register marriages or is temporarily incapacitated for the performance of his duties under this Act by reason of illness or by any other sufficient cause, or is dead or has resigned or retired from office, the District Registrar may issue a certificate of appointment to any other fit and proper male Muslim to act as a temporary Registrar in place of the aforesaid Registrar for such period as may be specified in the certificate.

[S 9(1) am by s 2 of Act 32 of 1969.]

(2) Every certificate of appointment issued under this section shall be free of stamp duty and shall be valid only for the period specified therein.

10. Special Registrars.

(1) Whenever there is a special necessity for the appointment of a Registrar otherwise than under section 8 or section 9, the Registrar-General may, on application made in that behalf, appoint as a special Registrar any male Muslim who, in the opinion of the Registrar-General, is a fit and proper person to register marriages under this Act, and may, on payment of the prescribed fee, issue to him a certificate of appointment in the prescribed form.

(2) A special Registrar may be appointed under this section either for the whole of Sri Lanka or for a special area thereof; but the exercise of the authority conferred by each appointment shall be limited to such cases or circumstances or be subject to such restrictions and conditions as may be specified by the Registrar-General in respect of that appointment.

(3) Every certificate of appointment issued under this section shall be made out in foil and counterfoil and shall specify the area for which the appointment is made and the cakes or the circumstances in which or the conditions and restrictions subject to which the authority conferred by the appointment is to be exercised.

(4) The prescribed fee for a certificate of appointment under this section shall be paid in stamps, which shall be supplied by the applicant and shall be affixed to the counterfoil and duly cancelled by the Registrar-General.

(5) A list of the special Registrars appointed under this section shall be made and preserved in the office of the Registrar-General,

(6) A special Registrar appointed under this section shall not register any marriage in any case or in any circumstance other than the cases or circumstances, or otherwise in accordance with the conditions and restrictions, specified in his certificate of appointment.

(7) Any appointment made under this section may be cancelled, and the certificate relating thereto may be recalled, by the Registrar-General in his discretion.

11. Registration of marriages outside area of appointment.

Subject as hereinafter provided, no Registrar appointed under section 8 or section 9 shall register any marriage contracted outside the limits of the area specified in the certificate of appointment issued to him:

Provided that the Registrar-General may in his discretion, on application made for that purpose in respect of any particular marriage in any area by the bridegroom and, where a wali is necessary according to the Muslim law governing the sect to which the bride belongs, by the wali of the bride, and on payment of the prescribed fee, authorise by letter a Registrar appointed for any other area to register that marriage.

12. Quazis.

(1) The Judicial Service Commission may appoint any male Muslim of good character and position and of suitable attainments to be a Quazi.

[S 12(1) am by s 2(a) of Act 1 of 1965.]

(2) Save as otherwise provided in section 13 or section 14, more than one person shall not be appointed to be a Quazi for the same area; and the area for which each Quazi is appointed shall be so fixed or delimited as to avoid any intersection with or overlapping of any other such area.

(3) Every appointment of a Quazi shall be notified in the Gazette.

(4) In the notification relating to the appointment of each Quazi the area for which he is appointed shall be specified.

(5) Every Quazi shall reside within the area for which he is appointed.

(6) The Judicial Service Commission may, in its discretion, cancel the appointment of any Quazi by notification in the Gazette.

[S 12(6) am by s 2(b) of Act 1 of 1965.]

(7) Every Quazi shall, unless he earlier resigns his office or his appointment is cancelled by the Judicial Service Commission, hold office for such period as may be specified in the notification relating to his appointment.

[S 12(7) am by s 2(c) of Act 1 of 1965.]

13. Temporary Quazis.

(1) Where a Quazi appointed for any area temporarily leaves the area or is temporarily incapacitated for the performance of his duties under this Act by reason of illness or by any other sufficient cause, the Judicial Service Commission may appoint a suitable person to act as a temporary Quazi for that area.

[S 13 re-numbered as s 13(1) by s 3(a); 13(1) am by s 3(b) of Act 1 of 1965.]

(2) The Judicial Service Commission may by Order published in the Gazette delegate to the Secretary to the Commission the power to make appointments under subsection (1), subject to such limitations as may be specified in the Order.

[S 13(2) ins by s 3(c ) of Act 1 of 1965.]

14. Special Quazis.

(1) Whenever there is a special necessity for the appointment of a Quazi otherwise than under section 12 or section 13, it shall be lawful for the Judicial Service Commission to appoint any male Muslim of good character and position and of suitable attainments to be a special Quazi.

[S 14(1) am by s 4(a) of Act 1 of 1965.]

(2) A special Quazi may be appointed under this section either for the whole of Sri Lanka or for any area thereof.

(3) In appointing a special Quazi, the Judicial Service Commission may specify the conditions or restrictions subject to which such Quazi shall perform his duties and functions under this Act; and such Quazi shall not act otherwise than in accordance with such conditions or restrictions.

[S 14(3) am by s 4(b) of Act 1 of 1965.]

(4) Every appointment of a special Quazi shall be notified in the Gazette.

(5) The Judicial Service Commission may in its discretion cancel the appointment of a special Quazi by notification in the Gazette.

[S 14(5) am by s 4(C ) of Act 1 of 1965.]

15. Board or Quazis.

(1) The Judicial Service Commission may appoint a Board of Quazis, consisting of five male Muslims resident in Sri Lanka, who are of good character and position and of suitable attainments, to hear appeals from the decisions of the Quazis under this Act.

[S 15(1) am by s 5(a) of Act 1 of 1965.]

(2) The appointment of the members of the Board of Quazis shall be notified in the Gazette.

(3)—

(a)  Three members of the Board of Quazis shall form a quorum of that Board.

(b)  No appeal shall be heard by the Board of Quazis unless a quorum is present.

(c)  The decision of a majority of the members of the Board of Quazis who are present at the hearing of an appeal shall for all purposes be deemed to be the decision of the Board.

(4) The Judicial Service Commission may, in any special circumstances, terminate the appointment of any member of the Board of Quazis by notification in the Gazette.

[S 15(4) am by s 5(b) of Act 1 of 1965; 3(1) of Act 32 of 1969.]

(5) Where the appointment of a member of the Board of Quazis is terminated by the Judicial Service Commission or any such member dies or resigns his office or, without the consent of the Judicial Service Commission leaves Sri Lanka for a period exceeding three months, the Judicial Service Commission may appoint a suitable person to fill the vacancy.

[S 15(5) am by s 5(c)  of Act 1 of 1965; 3(2) of Act 32 of 1969.]

(6) The Registrar-General may appoint a person to be or to act as the Secretary to the Board of Qazis, and the person so appointed shall perform all such duties and functions as may be assigned to the Secretary by the provisions of this Act or the regulations thereunder or by a decision of the Board of Quazis not inconsistent with any such provision.

PART II

REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGES

16. Validity or invalidity of Muslim marriages.

Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed to render valid or invalid, by reason only of registration or non-registration, any Muslim marriage or divorce which is otherwise invalid or valid, as the case may be, according to the Muslim law governing the sect to which the parties to such marriage or divorce belong.

17. Duty of causing marriages to be registered.

(1) Save as otherwise hereinafter expressly provided, every marriage contracted between Muslims after the commencement of this Act shall be registered, as hereinafter provided, immediately upon the conclusion of the Nikah ceremony connected therewith.

(2) In the case of each such marriage, the duty of causing it to be registered is hereby imposed upon the following persons concerned in the marriage—

(a)  the bridegroom; and

(b)  in every case where the consent of the wali has not been dispensed with under section 47 and is required by the Muslim law governing the sect to which the bride belongs, the wali of the bride; and

(c)  the person who conducted the Nikah ceremony connected with the marriage.

(3) For the purpose of causing the marriage to be registered, it shall be the duty of the person specified in subsection (2)—

(a)  to give to the Registrar information of the date on which and the time and place at which the Nikah ceremony is to take place, and to request him to attend the ceremony for the purpose of registering the marriage; and

(b)  immediately upon the conclusion of the Nikah ceremony, to call upon the Registrar to register the marriage, and for that purpose to render him all such assistance and take all such other measures as may be necessary.

(4) Where the Registrar, notwithstanding that the acts or measures required by subsection (3) have been done or taken, neglects or refuses to register the marriage, it shall be the duty of the persons specified in subsection (2) to send to the District Registrar, within the seven days next succeeding the date of the Nikah ceremony, a written report setting out the following particulars relating to the marriage—

(a)  the names of the parties to the marriage;

(b)  the date on which and the time and place at which the Nikah ceremony was conducted;

(c)  the name of the wali, if any;

(d)  the name of the person who conducted the Nikah ceremony.

(5) Where any marriage which is required by this Act to be registered is not registered owing to default in doing or taking any act or measure required by any of the preceding provisions of this section, every person on whom the duty of doing or taking that act or measure is imposed by that provision shall be deemed to have failed to cause the marriage to be registered.

(6) The court convicting any person of the offence of failing to cause a marriage to be registered or of failing to send the District Registrar a report as to any marriage which the Registrar has neglected or refused to register, shall send to the District Registrar, as early as may be after the close of the proceedings in respect of the offence, a report setting out such particulars relating to the marriage as are required by subsection (4).

(7) It shall be the duty of the District Registrar, on receipt of any report under subsection (4) or subsection (6), to satisfy himself by such inquiry or investigation as may appear to him to be adequate, that the marriage has taken place and that it has not been registered, to verify the particulars furnished in the report and amend them if they are not correct, and to make order directing that the marriage be registered with the particulars verified or amended; and it shall be the duty of the Registrar specified in the order to register the marriage accordingly.

18. Declaration and form of registration.

(1) Before the registration of a marriage, there shall be made and signed in the presence of the Registrar—

(a)  a declaration by the bridegroom substantially in form II set out in the First Schedule; and

(b)  a declaration by the wali of the bride substantially in form III set out in that Schedule:

Provided that the declaration by a   shall not be required in any case where the consent of a wali has been dispensed with under section 47 or where no wali is necessary according to the Muslim law governing the sect to which the bride belongs:

Provided further that where the wali making a declaration is a person other than her father or paternal grandfather, the bride shall also sign the declaration made by such wali.

It shall be the duty of the Registrar to require the bridegroom, and, where necessary under the preceding provisions, the wali and the bride, to sign such declarations—

(2) After the signing of the declarations referred to in subsection (1), the Registrar shall enter, in Sinhala or in Tamil, a statement of the particulars of the marriage, in triplicate, that is to say, the original, the second copy (hereinafter referred to as the “duplicate”), and a third copy, in a marriage register, which he is hereby required to keep for that purpose substantially in form IV set out in the First Schedule. The third copy shall bear an endorsement under the hand of the Registrar to the effect that it is issued under section 19A.

[S 18(2) subs by s 7(a) of Law 41 of 1975.]

(3) The prescribed fee shall be paid by the bridegroom.

[S 18(3) subs by s 2 of Act 24 of 2013.]

19. Entries of marriage to be signed and attested.

(1) The statement of particulars entered in the register in respect of each marriage shall be signed in the original, the duplicate and the third copy, by—

(a)  the bridegroom; and

(b)  in every case where the consent of the wali has not been dispensed with under section 47 and is required by the Muslim law governing the sect to which the bride belongs, the wali of the bride; and

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