Where is the Report of the Experts’ Committee on the new Constitution or the draft Constitution submitted by them to the President?
Posted on November 18th, 2022

Dr Sudath Gunasekara. Mahanuwara

A nine-member experts’ committee was appointed to draft a new constitution, on the 3rd of Sept 2020. according to a Cabinet spokesman.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva

President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva (the only Constitutional Lawyer in the Committee)

President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana

President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena

President’s Counsel Samantha Ratwatte

Prof. Nadeema Kamurdeen

Prof. G. H. Peiris (only scholar on political and legal history, geopolitics, the culture of the country and the implications of a constitution from an impartial realistic view) 

Prof. Wasantha Seneviratne

Dr. Sarveshwara

It is reported that the Interim Report of the above Committee of experts was handed over recently to the President. The term of reference was to hand over the final report by end of 2021.  It also had been revealed that this Report has cost a staggering cost of Rs 158 million for the taxpayers of this country over two years and 5 months. This Committee was appointed by former President Gotabhaya in September 2020 and he expected the interim report by end of March 2021 and the final report which means the Draft New Constitution by the end of the year. As usual with Gotabaya’s all projects it also never saw the light of day.

Meanwhile, it is now reported that this Report had been handed over to the President 1 year after the due date. Just as what happened to Gotabhaya, it appears the Expert Report will also pass into oblivion having wasted RS 158 million. It was also reported that steps are been taken by the Present government to ignore it and put it into the dustbin of history. Meanwhile, President has declared that steps are been taken to address topics like ethnic reconciliation and the problems of the hill country Tamils, etc as national priories without a word on the recommendations of the Committee Report prepared by experts” on Constitution-making’ as Gotabhaya saw them, at such exorbitant cost. This lackadaisical attitude of the government evinces the fate of the 158 million wasted on this Commission.

Reliable sources have revealed that this report has recommended abolishing the Provincial Councils that have wasted billions of rupees and also have completely, disrupted, disorganized, and destroyed the time-tested district administration in this country headed by Government Agents, once acclaimed as one of the most efficient systems of administration in the whole British Empire. Since the abolition of the Provincial Councils Isn’t on the agenda, the present government also appears to soft-peddle with the 13th A and the Provincial Council to allow Tamils to live in hope of winning their aspirations including realizing their second dream Homeland on this land of the Sinhalese and also to keep India at bay. All in all, it is very unlikely the present government will take up the experts’ report seriously.

The acceptance of the recommendation to abolish the PCC by the committee is also reported to be the result of a long battle waged by Professor Gerald Peiris against all minority members of the Committee who have vehemently opposed his recommendations.  It is reliably known that only two members of the Committee, Manohara De Silva (the only Constitutional lawyer in the Committee) and Samatha Ratwatte have supported the stand taken by Professor Peiris.  Since I myself have not seen the full Report, I am unable to comment on its other recommendations. Prof Peiris is also said to have recommended setting up two new Provinces called North East and South East to make the democratic process more meaningful. This I think is a very good proposition to avert the separate State concept of the separatist Tamil politicians and the EElamists.

 Against this backdrop, I am afraid that this Expert Committee Report will be shelved and forgotten and dumped into the dustbin of history, enabling it to be consumed by silver ants, the logical fate of almost all Presidential Commissions Reports in this country.

This reminds me of a famous saying by a cynic Appointing a Commission or Committee is like going to the loo in the morning. First, there is a sitting, then there is, deliberations followed by reporting and finally the matter is dropped”. This, in short, is really what has happened to almost all presidential Commission Reports in the past.

Therefore, I would like to make a public call for all MPPs in Parliament and the general public at large to demand the Government to table this document in Parliament without further delay. Firstly, for the people of this country to know that this expert legal document they have produced is spending Rs 158 million of their hard-earned money taking such a long time – a period of 2 years and 4 months and secondly, to prevent hurriedly manipulated constitutional coups by self-seeking politicians for personal gain and thirdly, to find out whether there is any meaningful recommendation made therein that could be incorporated in the New Constitution that will be promulgated by a new government that is going to get elected on a future day with a mandate from the people to make such a Constitution in future.

Even though overall the committee was ill-constituted as I have said from the beginning, I understand that emeritus Professor like Gerald Peiris has made a valuable and meaningful recommendation to set up new Provinces namely, The North Eastern Province and the South Eastern Province. This is a novel idea presented since 1897 worth considering seriously as it offers a better political meaning in the context of the demographic and ethnic constitution of this area to make governance more democratic.

In Professor Peiris’s own words I suggest the bifurcation of the present Eastern Province so as to establish a ‘North-Eastern Province’ and a new ‘South-Eastern Province’, achieving thereby a measure of rationality from geographical, demographic and socioeconomic criteria in the demarcation of the units of development administration in the eastern lowlands of the island.” This to me is a very rational political proposal to counter the current claim for a separate State. And also, do away with alleged discrimination against certain people living in these areas.

Therefore, I call upon the government to table this report in Parliament without further delay.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress