The writer acknowledges with gratitude his indebtedness to the reflections of Sri Aurobindo in an article entitled ‘Comic Opera Reforms’ in the Bande Mataram – written in 1907, some eighty years ago.In August 1987, the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the ancillary Provincial Councils Act. The Sri Lankan Government declared that the enactment of these laws fulfilled the promises made in the Accord, to ‘devolve power’ on the Tamil people.The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who (together with the other armed resistance groups) were recognized as ‘combatants’ by the Accord and who had emerged as the leaders of the Tamil national struggle, rejected the basic provisions of the 13th Amendment.This Article examines the basic provisions of the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Councils Act and inquires whether these laws devolved power on the Tamil people or whether these laws amount to a constitutional script for a comic opera, with power continuing to reside in a Sinhala dominated Central government within the frame of an unitary constitution.
[ Nadesan Satyendra, March 1988]
[ Posted on TamilNation.org][also in PDF]
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- Constitutional trinity of marvels
- Executive power exercised by a Provincial Governor appointed by the Sinhala President
- The Provincial Governor will control the Provincial public service
- What then, is the role of the Board of Ministers and the Chief Minister?
- Chief Minister and the Board of Ministers are ‘to aid and advice’ the Provincial Governor
- Those who are required to ‘aid and advice’ the ruler should not be left in doubt ..
- President may dissolve the Provincial Council
- Governor not bound to act on the advice of the Chief Minister
- But subject to the direction and control of the President
- Who will control the purse?
- Withdrawal from the Provincial Fund subject to the sanction of the Governor
- If Ministers do not agree with the Governor, President may take over
- In sum elected Ministers without Ministerial power
- And an appointed Governor with ministerial powers
- Many subjects outside even the Governor’s powers
- Including police and public order
- The Chief Minister is granted the privilege of being consulted!
- Police and public order in the Province effectively in the hands of the President
- Disposition of State land in the hands of the Sinhala President
- The third of the constitutional trinity of marvels – the Provincial Council
- ‘National policy’ enables the central Parliament to legislate in respect of any matter
- Provincial Council – a glorified Local Authority
- Without control of finance
- The powers of the Provincial Councils may be changed by a simple majority
- 13th Amendment: Constitutional sleight of hand
- Fails to address central issues of the Tamil national struggle
- Denies homeland to the Tamils of Eelam
- And resorts to the subterfuge of a referendum
- A Machievellian provision intended to secure that the merger is temporary
- Refuses to recognise the political reality of the Tamil Nation
- The Tamil Nation in Eelam is more than an idea
- Thimpu Declaration was the joint and unanimous will of the Tamil people
- Constitutional script for a comic opera