Posted on March 2nd, 2023


Why a constitution needs a country may be a complex and broad question, but it involves many points to consider. The answer to this question would be analytical that should cogitate various points relating to modern democratic aspects which concern with rights and responsibilities of citizens. It invites views and discusses many points without relegating to lower quality people without values.

In a country like Sri Lanka which consists of small populations, land area and limited assets, resources may not need to consider complex points of view but, constitutional lawyers and experts may present an ocean of various reasons or views favouring having a constitution. John Doily in his publication wrote about the sketch of the constitution of the Kandyan Kingdom of Sri Lanka and broadly explained the nature of the constitution of Sri Lanka when the British rulers took over the country. The views in the books were collected from the field when he was working in Sri Lanka.  

In the beginning, John D’Oyly explained the nature of the state in Sri Lanka, “the power of the King is supreme and absolute. The minister advises, but cannot control his will….” The other significant point is the authority of the King is exercised through many officers of the state, which means in history the power of the state was not divided into provinces the power entire country was exercised by the officers of the country appointed by the King. Provincial authorities like Wanniyar were officers like village headmen or village service officers in current Sri Lanka. Some people interpret that Wanniyar was a provincial king but in terms of John Doily’s book it is not true and the details could find in the book of John O’Doily.   

When it refers to experts in political theory, we cannot ignore the views of Harold Laski and the author of the originally written constitution of Sri Lanka, Sir Ivor Jennings. In general view, a constitution indicates that it needs to determine the power distribution of the country, explain the nature of the state and many points as indicated by Doily.  The uniting people of the country would give equal rights to all citizens of the country and ascertain the rights of people. It also needs to note that while a constitution is directing the rule, despite constitutional rules many countries encountered revolutions and destroyed the constitutions.

Sri Lanka gained a constitution as the result of the implementation of Saulsbury reforms in 1947 and the majority of people in the country gave consent to the content of the constitution by the general election in 1947. After the political changes in 1956, many experts critically evaluated the contents of the constitution and the election held in 1970 gave the required authority of the parliament to either change the constitution or to introduce a new constitution. In addition, a revolutionary political group of Janata Vimukthi Peramuna pushed for political reforms through a bloodletting revolution and a new constitution in a democratic way came into effect in 1972. After introducing the second written constitution in Sri Lanka the constitution and related activities politized and without a real solution, the concept of constitution and related activities seems a dogma continuing without a clear solution and neighbouring powerful countries use this situation for political advantages rather the than honestly helping to poor communities in Sri Lanka

The 1972 constitution was abolished by the government elected in 1977 which introduced a new constitution allowing free investments and an economic system in 1978.  The constitutional issues became the rights of citizens who suffer people of a grave issue that goes beyond Sri Lanka.  12% of the Tamil population was unhappy about the contents of the constitution which has defined the country as a unitary state and the Tamil population originated from the links of South Indian Tamils being associated with a conflict demanding for the country to a federal status from the unitary system. Sri Lanka had been managed as a unitary state before the era of King Anawas, at that time there was no country called India. This idea was expressed by Indian historians and the political manuring promoted India to influence on this issue India wanted to introduce the 13th Amendment to the constitution allowing the country to convert as a federal state. What was the secret agenda behind the reform could not determine and less than 12 per cent of the population stuck implementing this reform.

Converting Sri Lanka which is a small country to a federal administration would be a Boeotian decision and it is a major reason to increase government spending and increasing inflation. The Indian concern was to control the possible repercussion resulting from Tamil unrest. Sri Lanka is not a country viable for a constitutionally federal state, and the contents of the 13th amendment might support disuniting people current Sri Lanka needs sophisticated economic strategies to attract investment and the management of investment to increase the general productivity of the country. The rule of God is to allow land to use by everyone without limiting the humans of the country. May common assets such as water, lands, education and all other assets should not be limited to selected groups and the assets created by God must be available to every citizen of the country despite racial and religious limits.

The 13th amendment is just a piece of paper, sometime, it could be used to make toilet paper in the country when critically considering the contents of the 13th amendment. Every person born in Sri Lanka has the right to enjoy the benefits of land and languages. Since the colonial era, the major disadvantage that has been encountered by people of the country could be considered as the division of rights of people without differentiation on the races and religious beliefs. Colonialists used differences to their advantage and ethnic issues were the major point. Forcing or insisting on fully implementing the 13th amendment by an outside force is not acceptable and Sri Lanka’s people should have the right to implement or not the 13th amendment.

In the meantime, the majority Sinhala community also seems to fuel to fire widening ethnic and religious gaps. Sinhala community should wisely act and should not use the 13th amendment for political purposes.        

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