19A – Confusing in present political crisis
Posted on December 4th, 2018


If the Constitution is to be sacrosanct, in the first place, it has to be totally free of ambiguity and confusion. The 19th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution appears to be a product of political expedience, rather than something that makes the government more democratic in the service of the people. It has been constructed in haste and mainly to serve a particular agenda. In trying to bring in amendments that need a referendum, through the back door as it were, in order to avoid a referendum, it has produced a document that could be interpreted in different ways, and it is being interpreted so by constitutional experts.

For instance, the reason why there are two articles dealing with the subject of the president’s powers to dissolve parliament is not clear. Some say when there are two articles the later one prevails over the earlier. These people, however, would not explain why there are two articles, why there has to be an earlier clause, so that lesser beings like us would understand the Constitution. Others say the article that carries the specific provisions would override the one that is more general. Again they don’t explain why there has to be an article that deals with the general situation, which seems to be superfluous and confusing.

The two articles that deal with the above matter are 33 (2) (c) and 70 (1). The latter gives the specific requirements that need to be met before the President could dissolve the parliament. It says the President could dissolve parliament only after 4 ½ years of its tenure. In the 1978 Constitution, the President had powers to dissolve the parliament after one year. Clearly the question arises whether this drastic curtailment of presidential powers needs a referendum. The Supreme Court which looked at the 19th A, had ruled that such changes may need a mandate from the people. It appears that in order to get over this problem the authors of the 19th A had introduced Article 33 (2) (c) which is a copy of Article 42 of the 1978 Constitution verbatim. Was the Parliament duped by the presence of this article into voting in favour of the 19th A almost unanimously? Now that the 19th A has gone into the Statute Book it is the law, but a very confusing one at that and everybody has extreme difficulty in interpreting it without causing injustice to the people of the country.

In all probability the intention of the designers of 19th A, who in all probability have designs on the country, was to cause such confusion so that they have the freedom to interpret it the way they want.

However, the incongruity between the ruling of the Supreme Court and the interpretation of the Constitution by its authors remains, and is of vital significance. The point at issue is the fact that the sovereignty of the people is reposed on the President as stated in the Constitution, and curtailment of some of his powers which may impact on the sovereignty of the people without asking them, would amount to a breach of sovereignty. Article 70 (1) is one such clause, and when interpreting it the constitutional experts must take special care not to cause further damage to the sovereignty of the people, which is already much eroded by the misdeeds of the “Yahapalanaya”.

One Response to “19A – Confusing in present political crisis”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    Anyone who loves this land, should avoid those who sell the key assets to foreigners to come back to power.

    Anyone who fed from Mother Lanka and received free education from Mother Lanka and breathed fresh air and drank water from Mother Lanka should pay back to her by providing protection to her all the time.

    Those who do not protect Mother Lanka are lower than the hyenas and vultures who feed from the left-overs from the powerful ones.

    The whole country is waiting to see if the SC panel are going to be hyenas who are going to feed themselves by eating piece by piece of Mother Lanka or true sons and daughters of Mother Lanka who will gently embrace her and protect her.
    Only two more days to wait!!

    The SC bench comprised
    1. Chief Justice Nalin Perera,
    2. Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare,
    3. Justice Sisira J de Abrew,
    4. Justice Priyantha Jayawardena,
    5. Justice Prasanna S. Jayawardena,
    6. Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda and
    7. Justice Murdu Fernando.

    Lets see if they are going through word by word of a document made by humans with vested interests & errors and interpret it as a holy document and establish their verdict in favour of a bunch or rogues who are waiting to sell piece by piece of Mother Lanka.

    They have to remember that they were made educated free by Mother Lanka herself to sit in such high places. If they contribute to the destruction of Mother Lanka, they will pay back severely for this bad deed

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