13th Amendment back in the limelight in Sri Lanka

13th Amendment back in the limelight in Sri Lanka

January 21, 2016   08:42 am

Even as Sri Lanka is preparing to come up with a new Constitution with devolution as one of the key issues, the 13th Amendment, which created provincial councils in the country, is again in the limelight.


While former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has argued that the proposed scheme of devolution should not exceed the terms of the amendment, with no to any merger of provinces and the transfer of land and police powers to provincial councils, Leader of House in Parliament Lakshman Kiriella has gone on record stating that the amendment is the basis for the resolution of the national question.


The amendment was an outcome of an agreement reached between India and Sri Lanka in 1987.


K. Vigneswaran, former secretary of the merged North-East province (which has remained separated since October 2006), asserts that the amendment can be used to address day-to-day problems of people affected by the Eelam War, even though it is “not a panacea for all the problems facing this country.” This can go on till a new Constitution is ready.


Pointing out that Sri Lanka is estimated to have 89,000 war widows, including around 54,000 in the Northern Province, he says “lack or absence of livelihood opportunities” is the major problem being faced by the women.


“NGOs cannot handle this problem fully. At best, they can play a supplementary or complementary role. It is up to the provincial councils to take the lead role,” adds Dr. Vigneswaran, who is now heading the Akhila Ilankai Tamil Mahasabha.


Similarly, with regard to housing, employment of youth and improvement of standards and facilities for education, the provincial councils can be proactive, but “unfortunately, the Northern Province has done little”.


He adds that unless there is “substantial progress” with regard to housing, livelihood and education, there are remote chances of about one lakh Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu returning home.


When pointed out that lack of manpower is said to be the main hurdle for the Northern Province to function meaningfully, he replies that there are still ways of getting things done.


However, A. Varadaraja Perumal, former chief minister of the North-East Province, feels the amendment suffers from certain “inherent weaknesses.”


Had it been interpreted in Sri Lanka as is done in respect of similar features of the Indian Constitution in India, the amendment would have made a “huge difference.”


Yet, he says that the 13th Amendment can serve as a reference point, but the proposed Constitution cannot be based on it.


“You require a constitutional arrangement that can be understood from the Sri Lankan point of view,” he adds, the Hindu reports.




Disclaimer: All the comments will be moderated by the AD editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or slanderous. Please avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment and avoid typing all capitalized comments. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by flagging them(mouse over a comment and click the flag icon on the right side). Do use these forums to voice your opinions and create healthy discourse.

Most Viewed Video Stories

GMOA on protest against Acting Medical Superintendent of Pottuvil Base Hospital

GMOA on protest against Acting Medical Superintendent of Pottuvil Base Hospital

Wasantha Samarasinghe speaks on 53 enterprises chosen by govt to be sold off

An egg cannot be sold for Rs. 25, egg producers say

Meditation programs aiming mindfulness to be conducted at schools - Edu. Minister

Multilateral lenders will resume lending once IMF program in place - Coomaraswamy

Student critically injured after being torched; suspect arrested

Restaurant owners and several civil organizations meet with Trade Minister

IRD spent Rs. 10 Bn on revenue administration management information system, COPA hears (English)