A high-powered committee to draft new Constitution: Prof. Suri Ratnapala to be chief consultant.
The government is to pass a resolution in Parliament seeking its approval to set up a Constitutional Secretariat to draft a new Constitution.
A committee, headed by Parliamentarian Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, has already been appointed to take measures in this regard. Among its members are senior lawyer Suren Fernando and Additional Secretary (Legal) to the Prime Minister Bimba Thilakaratne.
Prof. Suri Ratnapala, a veteran in the field of legal studies, is likely to be the government’s chief consultant when formulating the new constitution.
Prof. Ratnapala, who was in Sri Lanka for a brief visit last month, held several rounds of discussions with the top rung leadership of the government in this regard, an authoritative government source told the Sunday Observer.
He further said Professor Ratnapala, who is currently based in Australia, has agreed to take up the task.
Ratnapala is presently a Professor of Public Law and Director of the Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law in the School of Law at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
Ratnapala served as a Senior State Counsel, representing the Sri Lankan state in landmark constitutional cases before he migrated to Australia where he completed masters and doctoral degrees before accepting tenure at the University of Queensland. He was appointed to the Chair of Public Law in 2001, in Australia
Prof. Ratnapala, in 2014, gave expert opinion to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka on the applicability of the 18th Amendment with regard to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking a third term.
Meanwhile, the spokesman said the government ha decided to totally abolish the Executive Presidency and it will come into effect after the first term of President Maithripala Sirisena.
President Sirisena, in his speech at the funeral of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha, assured that the government would totally abolish the Executive Presidency as promised in his election manifesto, early this year.
“The President and the Prime Minister have already stated that a new constitution will be presented to Parliament in 2016. It will be passed before September, 2017, as a new constitution requires the support of a two third majority in Parliament. So, the current national unity government will be entrusted with the task of passing the new constitution,” he explained.
He also added that the government would go for a referendum on the new constitution if the need arises. “Although the government promised introduced a new constitution in its election manifesto, there are differences of opinion over the nature of the new constitution. Therefore, it would be essential to hold a referendum after passing the new constitution in Parliament,” he said.