George the Sixth, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith. To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting!

Whereas by the Ceylon Letters Patent, 1947, We did constitute the Office of Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over Our Island of Ceylon and its Dependencies:

And whereas We are minded to make fresh provisions as is hereinafter provided: Now know ye that We do by these Presents declare Our will and pleasure as follows : –

[4th February
, 1948


(1) In these Letters Patent, unless the context otherwise requires-

” the Governor-General” means the Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Island, and includes the Officer for the time being Administering the Government of the Island and, to the extent to which a Deputy for the Governor-General is authorized to act, that Deputy ;

” the Public Seal” means the Public Seal of the Island.

(2) In the interpretation of these Letters Patent, the provisions of the Interpretation Ordinance of Ceylon shall, subject to the express provisions of these Letters Patent, and notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in that Ordinance, apply as they apply for the interpretation of an Ordinance in force in the Island.

Short title and commencement.

2. These Letters Patent may be cited as the Ceylon (Office of Governor-General) Letters Patent, 1947, and shall come into operation on the day appointed by Us by Order in Our Privy Council as the appointed day * for the purposes of the Ceylon Independence Act, 1947.

* 4th February, 1948.-See the Ceylon Independence (Commencement) Order in Council, 1947.

Revocation of existing Letters Patent.

3. The Ceylon Letters Patent, 1947, are hereby revoked but without prejudice to any appointment lawfully made, or to any other thing lawfully done, thereunder.

Office of Governor-General and Commander-in- Chief constituted.

4. There shall be a Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Our Island of Ceylon and its Dependencies and appointments to the said Office shall be by Commission under Our Sign Manual and Signet.

Governor-General’s authority.

5. We do hereby authorize, empower and command the Governor-General to do all things belonging to his Office in accordance with these Letters Patent, such Commission as aforesaid, such Instructions as may from time to time be given to him by Us under Our Sign Manual and Signet, the Ceylon (Constitution and Independence) Orders in Council, 1946 and 1947, and such other laws as may from time to time be in force in the Island.

Publication of Governor-General’s Commission and taking of Oaths.

6. Every person appointed to fill the Office of Governor-General shall, with all due solemnity, before entering on any of the duties of his Office, cause the Commission appointing him to be Governor General to be read and published in the presence of the Chief Justice or, in his absence, some other Judge of Our Supreme Court of Ceylon and of such Members of the Cabinet of the Island as can conveniently attend ; which being done, he shall then and there take before them the Oath of Allegiance and the Official Oath in the forms set out in the Promissory Oaths Ordinance, which Oaths the said Chief Justice or Judge is hereby required to administer.

Succession to Government.


(1) Whenever the Office of Governor-General is vacant, or the Governor-General is absent from the Island, or is from any cause prevented from, or incapable of, acting in the duties of his Office, then such other person as We may appoint under Our Sign Manual and Signet, or if there is no such person in the Island and capable of discharging the duties of the administration, then the person for the time being lawfully performing the functions of Chief Justice shall, during Our pleasure, administer the Government of the Island.

(2) Before assuming the administration of the Government of the Island any such person shall, in the form and manner prescribed in Article 6 of these Letters Patent, take the Oath of Allegiance and the Official Oath (as Governor-General) ; which being done, We do hereby authorize, empower and command such person, subject, if he is appointed as aforesaid under Our Sign Manual and Signet, to the terms of his appointment, during Our pleasure, to do all things that belong to the Office of Governor-General as provided in these Letters Patent.

(3) Any such person as aforesaid shall not continue to administer the Government after the Governor-General or some other person having a prior right to administer the same has notified that he has assumed or resumed or is about to assume or resume the administration.

(4) The Governor-General or any other person as aforesaid shall not be regarded as absent from the Island or prevented from or incapable of acting in the duties of his Office for the purposes of this Article during his passage to or from any Dependency of the Island or when there is a subsisting appointment of a Deputy under the next succeeding Article of these Letters Patent.

Appointment of Deputy to Governor-General.


(1) Whenever the Governor-General has occasion to be absent from the seat of Government but not from the Island, or to be absent from the Island for a period which he has reason to believe will be of short duration, or whenever by reason of illness which he has reason to believe will be of short duration he considers it desirable so to do, he may, by Instrument under the Public Seal, appoint any person in the Island to be his Deputy during such absence or illness, and in that capacity to exercise and perform for and on behalf of the Governor-General during such absence or illness all such powers and functions vested in the Governor-General by these Letters Patent or otherwise as shall be specified by such Instrument.

(2) By the appointment of a Deputy as aforesaid the power and authority of the Governor-General shall not be abridged, altered, or in any way affected otherwise than as We may at any time hereafter think proper to direct; and every such Deputy shall conform to and observe all such instructions as the Governor-General shall from time to time address to him for his guidance.

(3) Any appointment under this Article may at any time be revoked by Us or by the Governor-General, and, in case of absence as aforesaid, shall cease and determine upon the return of the Governor-General to the seat of Government or to the Island, as the case may be.

Public appointments.

9. Subject to the provisions of the Ceylon (Constitution and Independence) Orders in Council, 1946 and 1947, and of any other law for the time being in force, the Governor-General may constitute and appoint in Our name and on Our behalf all such Judges, Commissioners, Justices of the Peace and other officers as may lawfully be constituted or appointed by Us, and, subject as aforesaid, may, for cause shown to his satisfaction, dismiss or suspend from the exercise of his office any person in Our service in the Island, or take other disciplinary action as respects any such person.

Grant of pardon.

10. When any offence has been committed for which, the offender may be tried in the Island, the Governor-General may, as he shall see fit, in Our name and on Our behalf, grant a pardon to any accomplice in such offence who shall give such information as shall lead to the conviction of the principal offender, or of any one of such principal offenders if more than one, and further may grant to any offender convicted of any such offence in any Court within the Island, a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions, or any respite, either indefinite or for such period as the Governor-General may think fit, of the execution of any sentence passed on such offender, and may remit the whole or any part of such sentence or of any penalties or forfeitures otherwise due to Us.

Disposal of lands.

11. Subject to any law for the time being in force, the Governor-General may, in Our name and on Our behalf, make and execute, under the Public Seal, grants and dispositions of any lands or other immovable property within the Island which may be lawfully granted or disposed of by Us.

The Public Seal.

12. The Governor-General shall keep and use the Public Seal for sealing all things whatsoever that shall pass the said Seal.

Officers and others to obey the Governor-General.

13. We do hereby require and command all Our Officers, Civil and Military, and all other the inhabitants of the Island to be obedient, aiding and assisting unto the Governor-General.

Reservation of power to revoke or amend Letters Patent.

14. We do hereby reserve to Ourselves, Our Heirs and Successors full power and authority to revoke, add to, or amend these Letters Patent as to Us or Them shall seem fit.

In witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent. Witness Ourself at Westminster this nineteenth day of December, 1947, in the twelfth year of Our Reign.

By Warrant under The King’s Sign Manual.


Chapter 388, Volume No. 11 Page No.867.