‘The present Constitution has been amended many times’
Jayampathy Wickramaratne, the leader of a three-member team that prepared the 19th Constitutional Amendment in Sri Lanka, called for a new Constitution which will include a fresh Bill of Rights and address the issues of devolution of powers to provincial councils and power sharing at the Centre.
Devolution of powers
Pointing out that the 19th Amendment did not cover the issues of devolution and power sharing, the expert told The Hindu on Monday that “ideally speaking, we should have a brand new Constitution. We cannot go on with this Constitution. It has been amended so many times.”
The proposed Bill of Rights, which would be a “great improvement” over Fundamental Rights of the existing Constitution, would not only have civil and political rights but also social, economic and cultural rights. Arguing for stronger Provincial Councils and power sharing at the Centre, Dr. Wickramaratne said Provinces and various communities should share power at the Centre and this should be done “to strengthen the Centre without weakening the periphery.”
On the relevance of the 13th Constitutional Amendment which was enacted subsequent to the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, the expert said that despite the Amendment having “lacunae,” it should be implemented fully and for the time being. “It permits the Centre to take back powers. Every comma and full stop in the 13th Amendment has been used by those who are against devolution to take back powers.”
T. Ramakrishnan/ The Hindu