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Sri Lanka

Constitution as adopted on 31 August 1978.

Article 12

    2. No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds:
      Provided that it shall be lawful to require a person to acquire within a reasonable time sufficient knowledge of any language as a qualification for any employment or office in the public, judicial or local government service, or in the service of any public corporation, where such knowledge is reasonably necessary for the discharge of the duties of such employment or office:
      Provided further that it shall be lawful to require a person to have a sufficient knowledge of any language as a qualification for any such employment of office where no function of that employment or office can be discharged otherwise than with a knowledge of that language.

    3. No person shall, on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex or any one of such grounds, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or conditions with regard to access to shops, public restaurants, hotels, places of public entertainment and places of public worship of his own religion.

Article 14

    1. Every citizen is entitled to...
      (f) the freedom by himself or in association with others to enjoy and promote his own culture and to use his own language;

Article 18

    1. The official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala.

    2. Tamil shall also be an official language.

    3. English shall be the link language.

Article 19

    The national languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala and Tamil.

Article 20

    A member of Parliament or a member of a local authority shall be entitled to perform his duties and discharge his functions in Parliament or in such local authority in either of the national languages.

Article 21

    1. A person shall be entitled to be educated through the medium of either of the national languages:
      Provided that the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to an institution of higher education where the medium of instruction is a language other than a national language.

    2. Where one national language is a medium of instruction for or in any course, department or faculty of any university directly or indirectly financed by the state, the other national language shall also be made a medium of instruction for or in such course, department or faculty for students who prior to their admission to such university, were educated through the medium of such other national language:

      Provided that compliance with the proceeding provisions of this paragraph shall not be obligatory if such other national language is the medium of instruction for or in any like course, department or faculty either at any other campus or branch of such university or any other like university.

Article 22

    1. The official languages shall be the language of administration throughout Sri Lanka:
      Provided that the Tamil language shall also be used as the language of administration for the maintenance of public records and the transaction of all business by public institutions in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

    2. A person, other than an official acting in his official capacity, shall be entitled:

      (a) to receive communications from, and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity, in either of the national languages;
      (b) if the law recognises his right to inspect or to obtain copies of or extracts from any official register, record, publication or other document, to obtain a copy of or an extract from such register, record, publication or other document or a translation thereof, as the case may be, in either of the national languages; and
      (c) where a document is executed by any official for the purpose of being issued to him, to obtain such document or a translation thereof, in either of the national languages.

    3. A local authority in the Northern and Eastern Provinces which conducts its business in either of the national languages shall be entitled to receive communications from, and to communicate and transact business with, any official in his official capacity, in such national language.

    4. All orders, proclamations, rules, bylaws, regulations and notifications made or issued under any written law, the Gazette and all other official documents including circulars and forms issued or used by any public institution or local authority, shall be published in both national languages.

    5. A person shall be entitled to be examined through the medium of either of the national languages at any examination for the admission of persons to the public service, judicial service, local government service, a public corporation or statutory institution, subject to the condition that he may be required to acquire a sufficient knowledge of the official language within a reasonable time after admission to any such service, public corporation or statutory institution where such knowledge is reasonably necessary for the discharge of his duties:

      Provided that a person may be required to have a sufficient knowledge of the official language as a condition for admission to any such service, public corporation or statutory institution where no function of the office or employment for which he is recruited can be discharged otherwise than with a sufficient knowledge of the official language.

Article 23

    1. All laws and subordinate legislation shall be enacted or made, and published, in both national languages together with a translation in the English language. In the event of any inconsistency between any two texts, the text in the official language shall prevail.

    2. All laws and subordinate legislation in force immediately prior to the commencement of the Constitution, shall be published in the Gazette in both national languages as expeditiously as possible.

    3. The law published in Sinhala under the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article shall, as from the date of such publication, be deemed to be the law and supersede the corresponding law in English.

Article 24

    1. The official language shall be the language of the courts throughout Sri Lanka and accordingly their records and proceedings shall be in the official language:
      Provided that the language of the courts exercising original jurisdiction in the Northern and Eastern Provinces shall also be Tamil and their records and proceedings shall be in the Tamil language. In the event of an appeal from any such court, records in both national languages shall be prepared for the use of the court hearing such appeal:
      Provided further that:
        (a) the Minister in charge of the subject of Justice may, with the concurrence of the Cabinet of Ministers, direct that the record of any such court shall also be maintained and proceedings conducted in the official language; and
        (b) t
      he record of any particular proceeding in such court shall also be maintained in the official language if so required by the judge of such court, or by any party or applicant or any person legally entitled to represent such party or applicant in such proceedings, where such judge, party, applicant or person is not conversant with the Tamil language.

    2. Any party or applicant or any person legally entitled to represent such party or applicant may initiate proceedings, and submit to court pleadings and other documents, and participate in the proceedings in court, in either of the national languages.

    3. Any judge, juror, party or applicant or any person legally entitled to represent such party or applicant, who is not conversant with the language used in a court, shall be entitled to interpretation and to translation into the appropriate national language, provided by the state, to enable him to understand and participate in the proceedings before such court, and shall also be entitled to obtain in either of the national languages any such part of the record or a translation thereof, as the case may be, as he may be entitled to obtain according to law.

    4. The Minister in charge of the subject of Justice may, with the concurrence of the Cabinet of Ministers, issue directions permitting the use of a language other than a national language in or in relation to the records and proceedings in any court for all purposes or for such purposes as may be specified therein. Every judge shall be bound to implement such direction.

Article 25

    The state shall provide adequate facilities for the use of the languages provided for in this chapter.

Article 28

    1. All laws and subordinate legislation shall be enacted or made and published in both national languages together with a translation in the English language. In the event of any inconsistency between any two texts, the text in the official language shall prevail.

    2. All laws and subordinate legislation in force immediately prior to the commencement of the Constitution, shall be published in the Gazette in both national languages as expeditiously as possible.

    3. The law published in Sinhala under the provisions of paragraph 2 of this article shall, as from the date of such publication, be deemed to be the law and supersede the corresponding law in English.

Note: The text of the Constitution of Sri Lanka is available through the Internet.


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