Connect with us


Constitutional changes in Sri Lanka



by Nihal Seneviratne

In recent times much attention has been focused on the subject of constitutional changes in the press and other media. During the last presidential election which Gotabaya Rajapaksa won comfortably he asked the people to give him a two third majority to abolish the 19th Amendment of the Constitution as well as draft an entirely new Constitution replacing the 1978 constitution of the late J.R. Jayewardene.

The people gave him this mandate. Since Independence this country has had the benefit of three constitutions viz. the Soulbury Constitutions, the Colvin Constitution of 1972 and the 1978 Constitution of JRJ now amended 20 times. It may be relevant and useful to retrace the different steps taken to have these three constitutions introduced to become the supreme law of the land. Such a review follows.


The Soulbury Constitution


Let us go back to 1945-46 when UK won the Second World War. At the general elections that followed, the Labour Party won a majority and chose their leader, Clement Atlee, to head the new government. By then the UK govt. was well aware of the numorous representations made by Sinhala Nationalist Leaders, starting with D. S. Senanayake, calling for Independence from the British. It was in this context that the UK Govt. appointed a Commission Headed by Lord Soulbury and consisting of Sir Fredrick Rees and FG Burrows to visit Ceylon to inquire into the Independence demand and report their views to London.

D. S. Senanayake and Governor Andrew Caldecott were in contact with the Colonial Office in London. They informed D. S. Senanayake that they had no draftsman available to undertake the work of drafting a Constitution as it was soon after the war and they were still recovering. The Legal Secretary was of Ceylon at the time was D. B. Nihill who had been instructed by the Colonial Office to draft a new constitution and prepare a draft of the Order-in-Council.

Soon after D. S. Senanayake had asked for a team from the Legal Draftsmen to study and work on the documents already in circulations viz the Board of Ministers draft prepared by Sir Ivor Jennings, the report of the Soulbury Commission and the White Paper embodying the decisions of the UK Govt. There was also available correspondence between the Governor and the Secretary of State for the Colonies which had already been published as a Sessional Paper.

Soon after a team from the Legal Draftsman Dept. headed by P.C. Villavarayan, the Legal Drftsman. H. N. G. Fernando and B. P. Pieris as Asst. Secretaries were entrusted the task of preparing the two Orders- in-Council. This was approved by Nihill and Drayton and shown to D. S. Senanayake. The two

Constitution Orders-in-Council approved by Her Majesty in Council became the law and was published in the Gazette soon after the House of Commons passed the Independence Act and the Soulbury Commission Report, as amended, became the Ceylon Constitution of 1948.



The 1972 Constitution

In May 1970 after the General Election where Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike and her SLFP, together with their allies were elected to power, Mrs. Bandaranaike assumed duties as Prime Minister – the world’s first woman to hold that office ahead of leaders like Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi who took office much later Mrs. Bandranaike formed a Socialist government together with the LSSP and CP. Among the Minister in her Cabinet was Dr. N. M. Perera, as Minister of Finance, Dr. Colvin R de Silva as Minister of Plantations and Constitutional Affairs, Leslie Goonenawardene as Minister of Communications and Pieter Keuneman as Minister of Housing and Construction.

Dr. Colvin R de Silva was given the task of framing a new constitution. He expressed his desire to have no connection with the Soulbury Constitution which he felt was foisted on us by the British and was going to frame an entirely new Constitution. On July 11, 1970, the PM issued a communication convening the first session of the Constituent Assembly. The resolution in the legislature read: “We the Members of the House of Representative do truly resolve and constitute, declare and proclaim ourselves as the Constituent Assembly of the people of Sri Lanka for the purpose of adopting and establishing a Constitution ……to be a free and independent Sovereign Republic…… deriving its authority from the people of Sri Lanka and not from the power and authority created by the British Crown and the Parliament of the UK… for carrying out the said mandate under the presidency of Stanley Tillakaratne and to consider the proposals introduced by the Minister of Constitutional Affairs.

The Members of the House of Representatives under Speaker Stanley Tilakeratne decided to sit in the morning session as the House of Representatives and in the afternoon sit as members of the Constituent Assembly. Dr. Colvin R de Silva had persuaded Walter Jayawadena, an eminent Queens Counsel in the UK, to function as Secretary to the Constituent Assembly with Sam Wijesinha and myself as Assistant Secretaries. The committee met 47 times from 1970 to 1972 and the 1972 constitution was established on May 22, 1972.


The 1978 constitution


After J. R. Jayewardene’s victory at the 1977 General Election where he received an unexpected five sixth majority, he appointed a Select Committee of the House on June 22, 1978 with representation from the Government and Opposition. The Motion to establish this Select Committee was moved by R. Premadasa and the Chairman of the Select Committee was J. R. Jayewardene. They held 15 meetings before its report was presented to Parliament and passed, making J. R. Jayawardene the first Executive Head of Government, a position held by the Prime Minister for a long period. Thus was established the Constitution of 1978.


A new Constitution for Sri Lanka in 2021


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa faced a Parliamentary Elections in August which he won comfortably.

During the election he promised the repeal of the 19th Amendment and also promised to introduce a new Constitution. The 20th Amendment to the present Constitution was passed very recently.

It was later announced that the President had appointed a nine-member team of eminent lawyers headed by Romesh de Silva PC, to prepare and draft a new constitution to replace the 1978 constitution in its entirety. This team of lawyers made a public announcement calling for representations and memorandums to be submitted to the committee, I believe by November 30.

These eminent lawyers would sift through the representations and memorandums received and prepare a draft report which is expected to be submitted to the President. The President is expected to submit the report and draft to the Speaker and the Speaker would submit this report and thereafter appoint a Select Committee comprising members from both Government and Opposition.

The Select Committee following the usual established procedure would invite representations from the public and would study all these memorandums and submit the report back to Parliament with their recommendation. It would deliberate at length, studying all the representation made and submit its final report to Parliament.

Thereafter a new Bill containing the new draft constitution would be gazetted and thereafter be taken up for debate in Parliament. After the gazetting the public would be given the opportunity to petition the Supreme Court regarding any inconsistencies in the Bill. Thereafter the Bill, with the recommendation of the Supreme Court, will be placed before Parliament. If the Supreme Court determines that the Bill would require a two third majority along with a Referendum this should be followed. Finally the draft Constitution would be placed before Parliament for the first, second and third readings and thereafter certified by the Speaker to make it the law of the land.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hair Growth and Thickness



LOOK GOOD – with Disna


* Oil:

Oiling is an old home remedy for hair growth and thickness. Oiling is also used for the strength, shine, and length of hair, from ancient times. The use of coconut oil, especially, is very effective when it comes to the amplification of hair health. Additionally, there are many essential oils for faster hair growth which you can use, too.

* How to Use: Generally, hair oiling works best when applied overnight. You could use this therapy every night, or after each night, then wash your hair, in the morning, before heading for studies, or work.


* Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera has long been used as a home remedy for hair growth, thickness, and treating hair loss problems It contains vitamins A, C, and E. All three of these vitamins are known to contribute to cell turnover, supporting healthy cell growth and shiny hair. Plus, vitamin B-12 and folic acid are also included in aloe vera gel. Both of these elements can keep your hair from falling out. Aloe vera plants can be easily grown indoors. A leaf can be plucked, occasionally, and cut open to reveal its gel. This gel needs to be applied on the scalp, basically, to provide nourishment to the roots.

*  How to Use:

Rub this gel on your head properly, leaving no area dry; wash after half an hour or so. Keeping this massage as a part of your weekly routine will eventually make your hair thick and long.


*  Green Tea:

Green tea is often consumed as a home remedy for weight loss. Surprisingly, it has many other benefits, including hair-related benefits.

* How to Use:

Consuming green tea once every day can add to the strength and length of your hair. If your body is extremely comfortable with green tea, then you may even consume it twice every day.


* Onion Juice:

A bi-weekly application of onion juice can relieve you of your tension, regarding hair health. The smell can really torture you, but divert your attention in doing something else for a while, like making a puzzle or washing the dishes. From an early age, onion juice has been used as a home remedy to control hair fall. Research has shown that onion juice has been successful in treating patchy alopecia areata (non-scarring hair loss condition) by promoting hair growth .

* How to Use:

Take half onion and blend it. Apply the mixture on every nook and corner of your scalp and let it sit for some 60 minutes, or so. Shampoo it off when it’s time for the hair-wash.

Continue Reading


Fun-loving, but… sensitive



This week, my chat is with Nilu Vithanage. She is quite active, as a teledrama actress – having done four, already; her first was ‘Pavela Will Come In The Cloud, Mom’ (playing the role of a nurse). Then Came ‘Heavenly Palaces’ (student), ‘Black Town’ (a village character Kenkaiya), and ‘Wings Of Fire,’ currently being shown, with Nilu as a policewoman. You could checkout ‘Wings Of Fire,’ weekdays, on Swarnavahini, at 7.30 pm. Nilu is also active as a stage drama artiste, dancer…and has also been featured in musical videos.

And, this is how our chit-chat went…

1. How would you describe yourself?

Let’s say, I’m a bit on the playful side, and I like to have a lot of fun. But, I do find the time to relax, and, at home, it’s dancing to music! Yeah, I love dancing. Oh, I need to add that I’m a bit sensitive.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I get angry quickly. Fortunately, that anger doesn’t last long – just five to 10 minutes. But I wish I could get rid of anger, totally from my system!

3. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Nope, can’t think of anything, in particular. Everything is fine with us, and I’m proud of my only brother, and I feel safe when he is around. Or, come to think of it, if I did have another brother, I would feel doubly safe…when going out, in particular!

4. School?

I did my studies at two schools – C.W.W. Kannangara Central College, and Panadura Sumangala Girls’ School for my higher studies. Representing my school, I won first place in a speech competition and dance competition, as well.

5. Happiest moment?

When my husband comes home, or talks to me on the phone. He is stationed in Hatton and those calls and home visits are my happiest moments

6. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I really find a lot of happiness feeding the fish, in ponds. I love to see them rush to pick up the tidbits I throw into the pond. That’s my kind of happiness – being close to nature.

7. Are you religious?

I would say ‘yes’ to that question. I like to go to the temple, listen to sermons, participate in meditation programmes, and I do not miss out on observing sil, whenever possible. I also find solace in visiting churches.

8. Are you superstitious?

A big ‘no.’ Not bothered about all those superstitious things that generally affect a lot of people.

9. Your ideal guy?

My husband, of course, and that’s the reason I’m married to him! He has been a great support to me, in my acting career, as well in all other activities. He understands me and he loves me. And, I love him, too.

10. Which living person do you most admire?

I would say my Dad. I truly appreciate the mentorship he gave me, from a young age, and the things we received from him

11. Which is your most treasured possession?

My family.

12. If you were marooned on a desert island, who would you like as your companion?

A camel would be ideal as that would make it easier for me to find a way out from a desert island!

13. Your most embarrassing moment?

One day, recently, with the greatest of difficulty, I managed to join a one meter distance queue, to withdraw money from an ATM. And, then I realised I didn’t bring the card along!

14. Done anything daring?

I would say…yes, when I ventured out to get involved in teledramas. It was a kind of a daring decision and I’m glad it’s now working out for me – beautifully.

15. Your ideal vacation?

I would say Thailand, after reading your articles, and talking to you about Amazing Thailand – the shopping, things to see and do, etc. When the scene improves, it will be…Thailand here I come!

16. What kind of music are you into?

The fast, rhythmic stuff because I have a kind of rhythm in my body, and I love to dance…to music.

17. Favourite radio station:

I don’t fancy any particular station. It all depends on the music they play. If it’s my kind of music, then I’m locked-on to that particular station.

18. Favourtie TV station:

Whenever I have some free time, I search the TV channels for a good programme. So it’s the programme that attracts me.

19. What would you like to be born as in your next life?

Maybe a bird so that I would be free to fly anywhere I want to.

20. Any major plans for the future?

I’m currently giving lessons to schoolchildren, in dancing, and I plan to have my own dancing institute in the future.

Continue Reading


Snail-napping sets the stage for CGI road trip



The SpongeBob Movie:Sponge on the Run

By Tharishi hewaviThanagamage

Based on the famous and one of the longest-running American animated series that made its debut on Nickelodeon in 1999, created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg, ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ is the latest addition to the SpongeBob movie franchise, coming in as the third installment after ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’ (2004) and ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’ (2015).

Continue Reading