Statement of the National Joint Committee Regarding the Proposed 20th Amendment
Posted on August 20th, 2020

Lt Col. Anil Amarasekera (Retd.)   K M B Kotakadeniya (Senior DIG Retd.) –Co-Presidents National Joint Committee

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 (Senior DIG Retd.)

Co-Presidents National Joint Committee

One Response to “Statement of the National Joint Committee Regarding the Proposed 20th Amendment”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Sri Lanka did not hold the Provincial Council Elections for now nearly 3 years. We have hardly seen anybody crying foul over not holding these elections – in the least not even those in the North and East. These councils were brought about first to benefit those provinces but the very people in these provinces don’t seem to have any need for them.

The provincial councils in the other seven provinces were an after thought by JR. Nobody asked for them, although there will be many who wants them just to get on the gravy train of graft, influence and power. People have no appetite for such either.
The very subject of the Provincial Councils should be allowed to lapse ad infinitum and gradually fade away from people’s memory.

    The only postive factor I see is that the existence of the PC is a currently a deterrent to the MCC proposals. I may be wrong!

    These structures favour the politicians and those who know how to manipulate and garner power through them for political purposes – in short keeping supporting politicians happy. These councils are plain and simple for granting priviledges to disgruntled and failed politicians.

    I am confident that GR has no taste for such structures, whereas MR being the quintessential politician he is, will still want to have them. In the end they must decide what is best and what is best to do under the current economic situation during Covid-19 and post Covid-19!

My only hope is that the existing power structures in the world too will diminish in their malefic influences over less endowed nations!

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