Penal Code amendment to axe Queen and replace with Republic

Monday, 9 September 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Amendments to Penal Code comes 47 years after country became a Republic
  • Cabinet notes such obsolete words and expressions have no relevance in present context
  • Country adopted Republican Constitution in 1972
  • Words to be substituted include “Queen” with “Republic,” “Ceylon” with “Sri Lanka” and “Queen’s subjects” with “People of Sri Lanka”
  • Bill to amend the Penal Code (Chapter 19) to be presented to Parliament shortly

By Chandani Kirinde 

Nearly half a century after the country became a Republic, Parliament is set to amend the Penal Code to do away with the words that link the country to its colonial past.

Words that will be consigned to the legal dustbins of history once the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill becomes law will include “Queen,” “Ceylon,” “A Police Vidhana,” “Governor General,” etc.

Under the amendment Bill, the word “Ceylon,” wherever it appears in the Penal Code, will be substituted with the word “Sri Lanka” and the word “Queen” with the word “Republic”.

Reference to “a Police Vidhana” will be replaced by a “a Gramaseva Niladari” while the word “wife” will be substituted by the word “spouse,” “an advocate” will become an “an attorney-at-law” and the “Civil Service” will become the “Sri Lanka Administrative Service”.

“Governor General” will be replaced by the word “President” and “waging war against the Government” with the words “waging war against the Republic”.

The section in the Penal Code which states “to deprive the Queen of the sovereignty of Ceylon or of any part thereof, or of any of her Majesty’s Realms and Territories” will be replaced with the words “to deprive the People of the Republic of Sri Lanka of their sovereignty in Sri Lanka or any part thereof”.

“The Queen’s subjects” will be substituted with the words “the People of Sri Lanka” while “of Her Majesty” will be substituted with “of the Republic”.

An Ordinance to provide for a General Penal Code for Ceylon was enacted in 1883 and has been amended many times but these words have remained in the Principal Enactment.

The Bill to amend the Penal Code (Chapter 19) will be presented to Parliament shortly by Minister of Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms after Cabinet gave the nod to the proposed changes.

The Cabinet noted that “certain words and expressions in the Penal Code enacted during the colonial times and revised at several instances do not have any relevance to the present context, after the adoption of the Republican Constitution of 1972 and hence such obsolete words and expressions be substituted with apt terminology”.

 The Bill has been published in the Government Gazette.