Sri Lanka already has a federal constitution – What more is TNA demanding?
Posted on May 24th, 2016

 Shenali D Waduge

Sri Lanka’s constitution is not unitary or was not after the implementation of the 13th amendment wherein the constitution became a quasi-federal one on the same lines of India. Therefore, it is strange that the Tamil National Alliance continue to be demanding federalism when it already prevails unless of course their objective is something different. This is where we need to stay alert to the recent statements bringing out the word confederal option into the limelight. A confederal option is truly what the TNA is seeking highlighted in the manner that TNA’s main constituent party ITAK changed its constitution in August 2008 and replaced a word with another (Shamasthi with Innaipatchchi). This name change holds the key to what ITAK deviously seeks through the new constitution and warrants people to be alert to these developments and ITAK must make public what these two words stand for.  As for devolution – already 36 of the 37 subjects have been devolved to all the provinces excepting land and police powers.

Allegation that ITAK constitution aims and objectives are confederal and not federal.

  • Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi was formed in December 1949 by S J V Chelvanayagam. The Tamil translation of the party name was separate Tamil State while the English name given was Federal Party.
  • Why did the ITAK in August 2008 amend its constitution and replace ‘Shamashthi’ with ‘Innaipatchchi’ if their aims and objectives were originally federal? If Shamasthi originally meant ‘federal’ what does ‘innaipatchchi’ mean?

Features of a Unitary Form of Government

  • All powers centralized in Central Government.
  • Local government system prevails where powers are delegated with strict central control/supervision
  • Unitary systems does not have list of distribution of powers in the constitution
  • Unitary systems are more responsible than federations as Centre is the sole responsible entity for the entire nation
  • France, Japan, China, Italy and Britain are unitary states.

Features of a Federal Form of Government

  • Dual system – Central Government at one level and State/Province at another.
  • Power is distributed between the centre & provinces except for subjects that have common interest which is in the charge of the central government (foreign affairs, defence, currency & coinage, etc)
  • One constitution prevails for both Central and Provincial Governments. All laws created by the provinces are subordinate laws and valid within the authority conferred by the constitution. If they go beyond limits the centre can deem it a violation
  • Central government can reach direct to the citizens in a State or Province
  • Central government has more authority than a confederal system
  • Fundamental rights of the citizens of a country is granted by the Central Government not State governments.
  • Only the federal government can negotiate treaties with other countries. State & local authorities cannot.
  • Under a federal set up unilateral secession is impossible while under confederalism unilateral secession is possible.

Features of a Confederal form of Government

  • Union of independent and sovereign States
  • formed with an intention to create independent and sovereign States
  • In a confederacy the Central Government can only reach upto the Governments of the confederation. The central government cannot directly reach the citizens.
  • The states of a confederation retain all the powers of an independent nation ex: right to maintain a military force, print money, and make treaties with other national powers.
  • can have their own currency
  • can have own military
  • can enter trade agreements with external sources
  • government of a confederation can withdraw from the Union
  • US, Germany were confederal before they adopted federal systems

India’s Constitution is Quasi-Federal (it has features of both unitary and federal form of government)

Unitary Features in India’s Constitution

  • Single citizenship
  • Single judicial system. Highest court is the Supreme Court.
  • Powers under Union Government
  • Limitations on autonomy to State Governments
  • The Union Parliament can reorganize States / alter boundaries by a simple majority vote even without consent of legislature of that state.
  • During a national emergency, union government can take over decisions of subjects under state list and control them the state’s executive powers)
  • Union law will prevail over State law in any conflict.
  • The President appoints state governors.
  • State governments do not have separate constitutions of their own – their powers are derived from the Constitution of India.
  • No state has independence source of income and are dependent on Centre for administration, finance and policy.
  • Single administrative system – entire administrative system is one India police and administrative is controlled by the Centre.
  • Single election commission for supervising and conducting general elections.
  • Article 3 & 4 empowers the Union Government to form new states and alter boundaries and names of existing states.

India’s Constitution is Quasi-Federal (it has features of both unitary and federal form of government)

Federal Features in India’s Constitution

  • Dual system of government with a union government (federal) and state governments. Distribution of powers.
  • Constitution is Supreme – Central Government & State Governments derive powers from one constitution. There is one Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution. Supreme Court can decide where an act by the Central Government or State Governments violates the constitution or not and declare that act a violation.

All of the features in India’s constitution is seen in Sri Lanka’s present constitution following the 13th amendment passed after the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987. In other words Sri Lanka’s constitution is quasi-federal and not unitary.

Federal systems can’t ask for referendums – Confederacies can

However there are calls for referendums from TNA and Tamil Nadu politicians

  • In 2014 State manifesto of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu assured an ‘Eelam Referendum’ in Sri Lanka.
  • In 2014 & 2014 DMK Leader Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu called for a UN backed referendum for Tamils in Sri Lanka.
  • In 2008 Sivajilingam (Prabakran’s brother in law) sought a referendum to decide Tamil Eelam at a Pongu Thamizh event in Australia
  • Numerous other Tamil politicians including the TNA leader have called for referendums.

Examples of TNA making confederal demands

  • TNA/ITAK use ‘co-existence’ ‘collaboration’ were the same words used when US experimented with confederacy. The moment states don’t get along with each other the next option is to separate (withdraw from the union) – the route ITAK wants to take but does not say so openly as it would be a violation of the 6th amendment and ITAK would be subject to legal action.
  • Constant reference to ‘United Sri Lanka’ is in line with ITAK’s confederacy objective where confederate states are joined only by a common united ‘collaboration’ agreement. When agreement fails separation follows which is the hidden intent of ITAK.
  • Notice those who are peddling the confederacy option for the new constitution are always referring to ‘United Sri Lanka’ ‘Co-existing’ ‘Collaboration’. These are the people to watch for their aim is not federal but confederal.
  • ITAK demand for regional states/union of independent and sovereign states are with hidden intention of creating an independent sovereign state
  • Northern Provincial Council demand for direct foreign aid and demand for direct diplomatic relations is aligned with confederal system
  • ITAK’s constant reference to Tamil province & Sinhala province when no such provinces exist is aligned to that confederal secession objective.
  • ITAK’s guarantee of language and religious rights is also confederal for in a federal government the Central Government is responsible for all fundamental rights.
  • ITAK’s amended Constitution of 2008 says that once it has created a ‘homeland for Tamils’ would co-exist and collaborate with the Sinhala provinces (there are no Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim provinces in Sri Lanka) If Sinhalese are not living in the North it is because LTTE chased them out of the North.
  • ITAK is well aware that a federal system has all the provision to annul a province that attempts to declare unilateral declaration of independence. In 1990 Indian stooge Varatharaja Perumal Chief Minister of merged N-E provincial council declared UDI and the Premadasa government immediately dissolved the council.

ITAK must legally establish that its aims and objectives is federal and not confederal as per its amended 2008 constitution.

Before ITAK can talk about any homelands it must prove that a separate independent Tamil Homeland existed and explain that if such a homeland existed why only Sinhalese archaeological and historical sites remain while ancient writings also speak of Sinhalese living in the North. Invariable ITAK and TNA must also answer and give reasons for the ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese & Muslims from the North in a calculated effort to give credibility to the bogus argument of a ‘Tamil homeland’. All of the Sinhala & Muslim people who were chased out of the North have every right to return and international bodies tasked to help resettle people to their original habitats must take up this task without bias and prejudice.

Sri Lanka is an island nation. Every citizen has a right to live, purchase land and carry out business anywhere in that island nation and no political party can deny this right. A government does not colonize its own territory. ‘Colonization’ accusations by the ITAK/TNA are uncalled for and have no legal basis.

With the trilingual policy of the GOSL it is the right of the Public to demand that ITAK’s constitution be made available in all 3 languages so that we can clearly establish whether ITAK’s amended 2008 constitution is federal or confederal. By establishing this the quests for referendums, direct foreign aid, direct diplomatic ties, granting citizens religious and language rights, ‘collaboration’ with Sinhala and Muslim provinces, UNITED SRI LANKA rhetoric will die a natural death. All these features are found in confederal set ups and not federal set ups.

Sri Lanka by virtue of the 13th amendment is currently following a federal form of government.

So the question is – if Sri Lanka, is already following a federal form of system why is the TNA/ITAK going on and on about wanting a federal solution in the new constitution?

If the public were to first establish ITAK’s aims and objectives as per their party constitution and establish what the meaning of Shamasthi and Innaipatchchi are and match them with the demands they are making publicly and through their paid agents in both the political, academic and NGO/INGO and international circuits the quest for confederacy as being the main aim would be clearly established.

Is the Sri Lankan Government aware of this? Are the policy makers aware of these? Have they even thought about the ITAK constitution’s aims and objectives as per 2008 amendment? If not they better start relooking at these angles before they go and making a major faux pas in handing to those who have been peddling confederacy on behalf of the ITAK/TNA to draft the new constitution.

Shenali D Waduge

12 Responses to “Sri Lanka already has a federal constitution – What more is TNA demanding?”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    There is ONLY ONE FEASIBLE PATH for Sri Lanka and it’s Sinhala people to SURVIVE, and that is to

    REPEAL the 13th Amendment

    DISSOLVE the Provincial Council System

    RETAIN and STRENGTHEN the Executive Presidential form of National Government.

    30 years of TERRORISM and DE-FACTO creation of an EELAM was UTTERLY DESTROYED & UPROOTED on Victory Day, May 19, 2009.

    Now UTTERLY DESTROY & UPROOT the DIVISION by India of our Motherland into a patchwork of BANTUSTANS!

    Can it be done? ABSOLUTELY … just like the ERADICATION of TERRORISM entrenched over 30 years!

    Where there is a WILL, there is a WAY!

    RISE! O Patriots of Lanka! Rise in your MILLIONS to DEFEND & PROTECT your Motherland from the TRAITORS and their FOREIGN PUPPETEERS!

    The ENEMY is once again knocking at our gates!

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    The traitor foreigners know this is the best chance to get whatever they want. China is out of the way. MR is
    out of the way. Catholic-run UNPatriotic party run by pol pot ponil wickramasinhalakiller in charge of Sri
    Lanka, who does not give a toss about our country. His heart is with the portuguese who brought his
    beloved religion to Sri Lanka. So the ever ungrateful foreigners trying so hard. When China is around these
    traitor low lives kept quiet since they were not goting get anything. Now their brethren india and christian west
    in the driving seat. Why not?

    Traitor UNPatriotic yama pallange alugosu thambi mudiyanse put foundations to break up Sri Lanka by
    starting these chief ministers, etc scums. Now every few hundred yards different countries in the 350-mile long island.
    Still a lot of deaf and blind Sinhalese support these Sri Lanka-destroying, Buddhistm-destroying, Sinhalese-killing Yama
    pallange UNPatrioitc party. We cannot believe how those idiots can call themselves Sinhalese, Buddhists
    while supporting a party which is hell bent on destroying Buddhism, Sinhalese and Sri Lanka.

    Tamils whose heart is tn, loyalty is to tn should go back there where they came from.
    They are never grateful
    never happy
    never loyal
    never can have enough.

    We never asked you to come. Ask British or dutch who brought you here if they can give you your drealam in one of those countries. You get more than what the native Sinhalese getting. While you own Colombo, we are not supposed
    to live in the north and east. You can even get free education in Galle uni. and be a doctor and contribute to kill
    Sinhalese. You can write in tamil in A/L exams and get to universities (through the backdoor) anywhere in Sri Lanka.
    But Sinhalese are not supposed to go to universities in the north and east. Still not happy. Ungrateful, selfish,

    If you can’t be Sri Lankan, do the honourable thing and leave. Nobody going to cry, nobody going to miss you,
    nobody will stop you. Doors are open! You killed enough Sinhalese, 100,000+. That’s your only contribution to
    our country. Aren’t you ashamed to asking for a country when you are a foreigner? Aren’t you ashamed
    you have done enough damage to a country which welcomed you sincerely?

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Possible Solutions to stop Separatism :

    – Agree with Ananda that the 13-A must GO !

    – Add Amendment to make Federalism a crime – add it to the 6-A and ENACT the 6-A which has never been acted on.

  4. SA Kumar Says:

    ri Lanka’s constitution is not unitary or was not after the implementation of the 13th amendment wherein the constitution became a quasi-federal one on the same lines of India.- but 13A not fully implemented yet ( police & land) aslo 6A.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    Sri Lanka is already a full federal country. Don’t be fooled by the unitary clause which has no meaning. The constitution limits the powers of the central government and clearly lists out provincial powers that cannot be taken over by the centre. Provincial boundaries cannot be altered either. No action can be taken by the centre or the president in the event the PC passes a resolution detrimental to the country. A province cannot be subdivided. These things make Sri Lanka more federal than India. This was stated by Gandhi in Tamil Nadu following the passage of 13A.

    Police and land powers rest with the province as per the constitution. NPC and EPC officially and unofficially exercise them by fooling the people. The Chief Minister is as powerful as the Chief Minister in an Indian state.

    It benefits Sri Lanka to reverse back to the Indian federal model. It has more safeguards and does not recognise Tamil as an official language. A province can be subdivided to prevent disintegration of the country. Sinhala will be the only official language with Tamil recognised as a regional language in the north and east only.

    Although the ideal solution is to abrogate 13A, no political party want it removed. Therefore, it is best to reverse back to the Indian federal model from the Sri Lankan federal model. The Sri Lankan federal model is aimed at expanding Tamil federal units throughout the country and ultimately achieving Eelam (entire country). That is not possible with the Indian model.

    The other advantage of adopting the Indian model is it limits Tamil begging bowl tactics. In Sri Lanka, there is no end to Tamil begging bowl and beggar’s wound demands.


    Only the LTTE was defeated on May 19, 2009, certainly not Tamil Eelam. Within a week, by May 26, 2009, the President and the UN Chief made a Joint Statement for the implementation of 13A. It was essentially a 7-day victory. Wigneswaran and Ahmed as Chief Ministers of the north and east, both appointed by former president, now infuriate and show acute disrespect to security forces. We have essentially replaced uneducated Parabhakaran with Wigneswaran and Ahmed.

    (Other Chief Ministers during that time are – Hirunika, Sajin Vaas, Duminda Dissanayake’s father Berty. Harin Fernando and DM Jayarathna’s son narrowly missed the post.)

    All of them (became somebody thanks to 13A) plotted the demise of Mahinda. It is beyond me why Mahinda still cannot bring himself to denounce 13A (and ETCA) openly and promise abrogation.

    If people like you and me take a strong stand on 13A, Mahinda and team will be forced to consider it. If we blindly follow politicians, they take us for granted. If that is not working, the next best option is the Indian federal model. 13A is much worse than that and the nation cannot survive with 13A.

  6. SA Kumar Says:


    A province cannot be subdivided.- not correct NEP divided into NP & EP .

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    Let’s look at the conditions prevailing in Lanka & INDIA at the time the 13-A was imposed ILLEGALLY on the JRJ UNP govt.

    It was Cold War time (1946-1991), and in 1980s (period during I am inclined to think that INDIA was leaning toward the neighbor beyond the Himalayas, the Sov Union. The 13-A was forced on the JRJ govt in 1987.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:


    It will definitely require the approval of INDIA and the WEST if the 13-A is to be removed, by the MR group or others.

    For INDIA and others outside/inside Lanka, the 13-A is the whip to crack over Lanka, isn’t it ?

    Can’t help but feel that the present UNP led Yahap folk are the best group to remove the 13-A. After all, Pres MS said that he appointed Ranil as Exec PM ‘because the West wants it so’.

  9. SA Kumar Says:

    Yahap folk are the best group to remove the 13-A.- 13A is untouchable . If it is possible than similar to our dream of TE also possible .

  10. Cerberus Says:

    The 13A was foisted on Sri Lanka by India when JR was in power during the UNP regime of which Ranil was a Minister. Ranil has to accept part responsibility for it. JR used undemocratic means to push it through. So many JVP youth (88,000) died protesting this undemocratic, fascist act. Since the UNP was responsible for it, it is the UNP that must remove it. Ranil is listened to by the West and also India since they brought him and My3 into power. The Parliament must pass a bill to remove the 13A and request Ranil the traitor to remove it. If he does that I think almost all the sins he committed against the Sinhalese and the Buddha sasana may be forgiven and he can live the rest of his life knowing that he did something good for Sri Lanka.

  11. Ananda-USA Says:


    Regarding the Patriotic Real Estate Company Proposal that I had floated, I have an earth-shattering announcement to make!

    As you may know, in response to expressions of interest from about six of you in joining that effort, I created a password-protected blogsite called and asked those interested to send an email message to me at requesting a password to be sent to them. We were going to discuss and plan how to proceed to implement the idea at this site.

    After 10 days of waiting for your responses, I am ready to PROUDLY ANNOUNCE the result: IT WAS A MONUMENTAL FAILURE; NO ONE …. ZERO, ZILCH, NADA …. responded!

    As such, I will NOW ABORT the PROJECT before it is BORN at the end of this month of May, 2016.

    While thanking those who supported the idea in principle, I have MIXED emotions of both DISAPPOINTMENT and GREAT RELIEF about this RESULT.

    Thank you all for your very kind attention.

  12. plumblossom Says:

    We do not need provincial councils which only promotes separatism. The provincial councils only duplicate the already existing system of ministry, district secretary, divisional secretaries, grama niladhari system which has functioned for decades. In addition, there are the municipal, urban councils and pradeshiya sabhas who elect their officials to ensure that there is local government representation and to ensure that local matters are dealt with. The ministry, district secretary, divisional secretaries, grama niladhari system is how government plans get implemented at the district, divisional and the grama niladhari level. The only thing the provincial councils do is duplicate this already existing system and is totally unnecessary. Since Sri Lanka is a small country. Therefore what is agreed at the parliamentary level in terms of plans can be implemented islandwide via the ministries. If anyone in any province wants to suggest anything innovative, they can do so via their MP at the parliamentary level. A small country such as Sri Lanka needs a strong central government and just one plan for the entire island to move forward. For this the existing ministry, district secretary, divisional secretaries, grama niladhari system is sufficient. At the local level there are the municipal, urban councils and the pradeshiya sabhas to take care of local matters.

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