COURT OF APPEALWIGNESWARAN, J.
C. MT. LAVANIA 3055/REDECEMBER 17. 1999
Rent Act 7 of 1972 – S. 22(2)(bb)(li) – S.22(7) Ownership acquired byway of gift – Subsequent to specified date – Inheritance or gift from aparent of spouse – Who is a'parent' ■ Is grandmother a parent •Constitution – 16th Amendment Article 23, Art 23(1), Art 23(3), Art 23(4)- Slnhala version different from English version which prevails ? 1972Constitution.
The Plaintiff Appellant Instituted action seeking an order for the ejectmentof the Defendant Respondent from the premises In question.
The premises were gifted to the Plaintiff Appellant by her grandmother.Prior to the gift the Plaintiffs grandmother had given the premises on rentto the Defendant Respondent.
It was contended that the ownership of the premises had been acquired byway of gift subsequent to the date specified. In the Rent Act but that thesaid gift was 'an inheritance or gift from a parent or spouse who hadacquired ownership of such premises on a date prior to the specifieddate. The District Court dismissed the action stating that the PlaintiffAppellant cannot have and maintain this action in view of S.22(7). inasmuchas the property was a gift from the grandmother. It was further held thatthe Slnhala version of the Act refers only to an inheritance received froma "Father or a Mother" unlike the English version of the Act which refersto a "Parent” so as to include a forefather.
The Rent Act was enacted prior to the promulgamation of the 1972Constitution, hence the language in which the Rent Act was enactedwas the English language.
District Judge has failed to consider the 16th Amendment to theConstitution. This constitutional amendment repealed the earlierprovisions relating to the language of legislation, there Is nothing toJustify that the Slnhala version gains precedence.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
120011 3 Sri L.R.
(Ill) The District Judge has erred In giving preference to the Slnhalatranslation of the Rent Act – he had failed to consider the provisionsof the bar contained in S.22(7) which referred to transfer from a'parent' which could include a "grandmother."
Rent Act has to be interpreted to include direct gifts from the ancestorssuch as a grandmother.
Since the Plaintiff acquired the ownership as a gift from hergrandmother, the bar against acquisition of ownership over the headof a tenant would In the circumstances not operate.
APPEAL from the Judgment of the District Court of Mt. Lavania.
Cases referred to :
1. Ross v. Ross – 20 NL Bear 645
N. R. M. Daluwatte, with D. P. Abeyslriwardena for Plaintiff Appellant.
Defendant Respondent absent and unrepresented.
Cur. adu. vult.
February 29, 2000.
SHIRANEE TILAKAWARDANE, J.The Plaintiff instituted action in the District Court ofMt. Lavinia for an Order for the ejectment of the Defendant fromthe premises bearing assessment No: 195, Avissawella Road,Maharagama, and for damages.
The question for determination as a preliminary issue waswhether the Plaintiff could have and maintain the said actionunder Section 22(2)(bb)(ii) of the Rent Act 7 of 1972 becauseof the bar contained in Section 22(7) of the said Rent Act.
It was common ground that the Plaintiff had become ownerof the premises in dispute by deed of gift bearing No: 23481 of22. 05. 1976 made by her grandmother. Prior to the gift thePlaintiffs grandmother had given the premises in suit on rentto the Defendant.
Weerakoon v. Slrayadt
(Shlranee Tifakawardane, J.)
The Plaintiff contended that the ownership of the premiseshad been acquired by way of gift subsequent to the date specifiedin the Rent Act but that the said gift was "an inheritance or giftfrom a parent or spouse who had acquired ownership of suchpremises on a date prior to the specified date".
The District Judge by his order dated 31. 07. 95 held thatthe Plaintiff cannot have and maintain the action in view of theprovisions contained in Section 22(7) of the'Rent Act inasmuchas the property was a gift from the grandmother. The DistrictJudge held that the Sinhala version of the Act refers only to aninheritance received from a "father or a mother" unlike theEnglish version of the Act which refers to a "Parent" so as toinclude a forefather. He has adverted to the provisions of Article23(3) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republicof Sir Lanka and has held that the Sinhala version should haveprecedence in interpreting the provisions concerned.
However, it appears that the District Judge has failed toconsider the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of theDemocratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, which was operativefrom the 17th of December 1988. This Constitutional Amendmentrepealed the earlier provision relating to the language ofLegislation. Article 23(4) had replaced Article 23(3) of theConstitution. Consequently, there is nothing to justify that theSinhala version gains precedence as the District Judge has held.
The provision contained in Article 23(3) prior to theamendment reads as follows:-
’The laws published in Sinhala under the provisions ofparagraph (2) of this Article, shall, as from the date of suchpublication, be deemed to be the law and supersede thecorresponding law in English."
In the amendment, in cases, of inconsistency between theseveral languages of the Act, no ’supersedence’ is given to anyspecific translation.
Sri Lanka Law Reports
120011 3 Sri L.R.
However the proviso to Article 23( 1) refers to situationswhere inconsistencies are apparent, and how it should be dealtwith. This Article reads as:-
"Provided further that in respect of all other written lawsthe text in which such written Laws were enacted or adopted ormade, shall prevail in the event of any inconsistency betweensuch texts."
The next matter therefore is to determine the language inwhich the Rent Act 7 of 1972 was 'enacted or adopted or made'.
The Rent Act No 7 of 1972 was published in the Gazette onthe 1st of March 1972. This was prior to the promulgation ofthe 1972 Constitution and hence the Language in which theRent Act was made or enacted was the English Language.
Therefore in the present context as stipulated in Article 23of the Amendment to the Constitution referred to above, thelanguage of the legislation to be preferred in case of aninconsistency in language would be the words adverted to inthe English version of the enactment.
The District Judge has erred in giving preference to theSinhala Translation of the Rent Act. He failed to consider theprovisions of the bar contained in Section 22(7), which referredto transfer from a "parent" which could include a "grandmother".
Where the ownership of the premises in suit passed in termsof Deed No: 23481 from the grandmother of the Plaintiff, theDistrict Judge should have considered whether such gift couldin Law be interpreted as a gift from a "parent".
"Ayer's Judicial Dictionary defines "parent” to include thematernal grandfather. The Interpretation given in the OxfordDictionary includes an ancestor or forefather. In the case of Rossv. Ross which dealt with the construction of a will the word"parent" was interpreted to include a "grandfather". Section22(7) of the Rent Act therefore has to be interpreted to include
CAWeerakoon v. Slrayadl
(Shiranee TUakawardane, J.)
direct gifts from the ancestors such as a grandmother. On thefacts of this case since the Plaintiff acquired the ownership as agift from her grandmother, the bar against acquisition ofownership over the head of a tenant would in the circumstancesnot operate.
Accordingly, I set aside the Order of the District Judge dated31.07. 1995, and answer Issue 8 as "yes," and direct the DistrictJudge to permit the Plaintiff' to proceed with’ the action. I remitthe case back for trial on the other issues. The District Judge isto conclude this case as expeditiously as possible.
The Appeal is accordingly allowed with taxed costs payableby the Substituted Defendant Respondent to the PlaintiffAppellant.
WIGNESWARAN, J. – I agree.