The National Joint Committee (NJC) wishes to convey its best wishes to his Excellency the President, and his Government elected with an overwhelming majority, in Parliament. We have utmost confidence that the Government would fulfill its pledge to remove numerous constitutional provisions introduced to the Constitution through many amendments that has plagued the structure of this state. It was reported in a lead news report that the Minister of Justice Hon. Ali Sabry is drafting the amendment he intends tabling before Parliament in mid-September, the contents of which we are unaware.
However we are perturbed by certain statements supposed to have been made by him in a televised interview the contents of which are referred to in same newspaper that ‘Provincial Councils would not be abolished’. He justifies this statement on the basis that the 13th Amendment involved international obligations on Sri Lanka as it was promulgated under the Indo-Lanka Accord. We need to remind the Hon. Minister that India failed to fulfill its part of the obligation including their obligation to disarm the ruthless terrorists. It was our valiant soldiers including his Excellency the President that saved this country from brutal terrorism. Furthermore we do not need anybody’s permission to revise our constitution. Therefore to say that his Government is not willing to abolish the 13th Amendment is most unfortunate.
We have now existed without these provincial councils for almost 3 years. The Provincial councils are white elephants which this country cannot afford. The 13th Amendment provides for the creation of ethnic enclaves by amalgamation of provinces (Article 154A (3)). Police powers are given to the Provincial Councils (although not implemented yet). The Provincial Police force is to be controlled by the Chief Minister of the Province (vide clause 11:1 of Appendix I of the Provincial Council List in the 9th Schedule). The LTTE is commemorated by racist politicians even today.
Since Parliament is able to repeal its own laws with a simple majority it should also be able to repeal Provincial legislation too sans a two thirds majority. (Article 154G (2) and (3)) The NJC is strongly of the view that the supremacy of Parliament must be maintained and for that purpose the power of Parliament hitherto exercised (prior to 1987) must be restored forthwith. The provisions introduced for provincial legislation to supersede national legislation (Article 154G (8) and (9)) should be removed. The powers included in the Provincial Council List pertaining to ‘Ancient and Historical monuments and records’ should also be repealed.
Accordingly we call upon the Government to rescind these obnoxious provisions forthwith. It was also reported that the Government intends to amend some of the provisions introduced by the 19th Amendment and to postpone dealing with other objectionable provisions for a future occasion. It is necessary to place on record that this Government came into power to restore the lost rights of the people forcibly removed through these amendments more specifically by the 13th and 16th Amendments. Therefore these injustices must be rectified forthwith as a matter of priority. We also strongly urge the Government to do away with the existing proportional representation system of elections and revert to the first past the post system as it existed prior to 1978.
We do not see any rational reason in abolishing the 19th Amendment and postponing the correction of other historical injustices thrust upon the people by successive governments through the present constitution and its amendments. Therefore we urge that this Government harness all its available resources to rearrange the constitutional structure of the state forthwith as a new constitutional arrangement is the wish of all the people that voted this Government to office. The NJC has done a comprehensive study of the historical injustices caused by the aforementioned amendments and therefore we are in a position to assist the Government in the preparation of a new constitutional arrangement if an opportunity is given.
Lt Col. Anil Amarasekera (Retd.) K M B Kotakadeniya ………. Co-Presidents National Joint Committee
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