Why enlarge devolution in Sri Lanka?

The resolution to enact a new Constitution


In response to my article on "The Resolution to Enact a New Constitution", Laksiri Fernando has extracted a single sentence and expressed his ‘displeasure’. If the entirety of the paragraph from which he extracted it, as well as the previous paragraph had been taken into account, he would have had reason to be more objective and therefore less displeased, because the 2 paragraphs establish the context within which devolution in India and Sri Lanka were compared.

In the sub-section of my article - "CONTOURS of the NEW CONSTITUTION", the 2 relevant paragraphs are:

"It is evident from the foregoing that in the opinion of the PM, devolution in Sri Lanka has failed, and that if devolution is to work it would be necessary for Sri Lanka to follow the Austrian model. If Sri Lanka is to follow the Austrian model Sri Lanka would be a Federal State because Article 2 of the Austrian Constitution states that Austria is a "federal state" composed of 9 autonomous Laender (States or Provinces). Furthermore, the PM’s recommendation to "enlarge" devolution by granting executive power to the Provincial Council is an indication as to where the contours of the New Constitution are heading

What compels Sri Lanka to explore enlarging devolved powers to Provincial Councils in Sri Lanka, when the identical powers devolved to India’s States have worked successfully for India? After all, we must not forget that devolution in Sri Lanka is modeled on the Indian system to such an extent that not only is the content and scope identical, even the very language is identical as demonstrated below". (The Island, Jan 1, 2016) .

Fernando states: "It is well accepted, and that there is no doubt, that the 13th Amendment tried to emulate the Indian Constitution... in many but not all instances". I made no claim that the two are identical in "all instances". If by Fernando’s own admission the 13th Amendment emulates the Indian model in "many instances", the question arises as to why there is compulsion to "enlarge powers" to the PCs in Sri Lanka if India continues to prosper under current powers. The Governors of States in India and the Provinces in Sri Lanka are appointed and derive their authority from the Presidents of India and Sri Lanka, respectively, who are each responsible for Executive Power (Article 53 in Indian, and Article 4 (b) in Sri Lankan Constitutions), in the 2 countries. On the other hand, are the instances where the two do "not emulate" each other sufficiently significant to warrant ‘enlarging’ devolution?

What Fernando considers more important is that devolution in India is under a Parliamentary System while in Sri Lanka it is an Executive Presidential System. Aside from the fact that the Indian system is most often described as quasi-federal and very seldom or never as a Parliamentary System, the functioning of both Legislative and Executive Powers under devolution to units in India and Sri Lanka is what is relevant and are close enough to be considered "identical". Therefore, the question that needs to be asked: "Why enlarge devolution in Sri Lanka"?

Neville Ladduwahetty

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