Constitutional Council (Sri Lanka)

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Constitutional Council
Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg
Reports toPresident of Sri Lanka
AppointerPresident of Sri Lanka
Term length3 years, One term limit
Constituting instrument17th & 19th Amendment
PrecursorParliamentary Council
Formation2000, 2015

The Constitutional Council (CC) is a 10-member constitutional authority in Sri Lanka tasked with maintaining independent commissions and monitoring its affairs. The Constitutional Council is aimed at depoliticizing the public service.

History[edit]

The Constitutional Council was first established in 2000 under the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka. In 2010 President Mahinda Rajapaksa established the Parliamentary Council, under the Eighteenth Amendment, to replace it. After Maithripala Sirisena was elected President, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the new reforms to reinstate a new Constitutional Council in 2015 under the Nineteenth Amendment.

The independent commissions were established under the Constitutional Council, fulfilling one of the major promises of the United National Party led Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena during the 2015 presidential election.[1]

Membership[edit]

Composition[edit]

The composition of the Constitutional Council consists of ten members, of whom three are ex officio members while the rest are appointed. As per Chapter VIIA, Article 41, of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, members of the council consists of the following:[2][3]

  • (a) the Prime Minister;
  • (b) the Speaker of Parliament;
  • (c) the Leader of the Opposition;
  • (d) one person appointed by the President;
  • (e) five persons appointed by the President, on the nomination of both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition; and
  • (f) one person nominated by agreement of the majority of the Members of Parliament belonging to political parties or independent groups, other than the respective political parties or independent groups to which the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition belong, and appointed by the President.

Qualification[edit]

It is the duty of the speaker, as chairman, to ensure that nominations for appointments to the Constitutional Council's appointed seats (the non ex officio members) are made, whenever an occasion for such nominations arise. Members nominated under sub paragraphs d, e or f "shall be persons of eminence and integrity who have distinguished themselves in public or professional life and who are not members of any political party". All appointments made by the President shall be communicated to the Speaker.

Members can vacate the office by resigning in the form of writing addressed to the President or can be removed from office by the President when both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have formed the opinion that such member is "physically or mentally incapacitated and is unable to function further in office or is convicted by a court of law for any offence involving moral turpitude or if a resolution for the imposition of civic disability upon him or her has been passed in terms of Article 81 of the Constitution or is deemed to have vacated his or her office under paragraph (7) of Article 41E". The President shall within two weeks, of there being a vacancy of any of the appointed members, appoint another person to succeed that member. The newly appointed member shall hold office for the remainder of the unexpired term of his/her predecessor.[3]

Term[edit]

The Speaker shall continue to hold office as a member of the Council for as long as they continue to occupy the office. The members occupying the seats held by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition shall continue to hold office as members of the Council for as long as they continue to occupy the office, or until such time after a General Election following such dissolution of parliament. All appointed members shall hold office for a term of three years from the date of appointment. Appointed members are not eligible for reappointment. However members shall continue to hold office on the council until a successor assumes the seat of the vacating member.[3]

Members[edit]

2015-2018

The President and Prime Minister appointed their nominees, Minister Champika Ranawaka (President's nomination), Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe (Prime Minister's nomination) and Vijitha Herath (Parliament's nomination), have been appointed to the council on 9 September 2015.[4]

Appointed members A. T. Ariyaratne, Radhika Coomaraswamy and Shibly Aziz were nominated to the council on 10 September 2015 and were approved by parliament on the 22 September 2015.[5][6]

2018-2021

Appointed members Naganathan Sellvakumaran, Jayantha Dhanapala and Javed Yusuf was nominated to the council on 19 October 2018.

Seat No. Member Seat Joined Council Left Council/
End of term
Party Notes
1 Karu Jayasuriya Speaker 9 September 2015 Incumbent United National Party Chairman
2 Mahinda Rajapakse Prime Minister 22 December 2019 Incumbent Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna [7]
3 Sajith Premadasa Leader of the Opposition 05 December 2019 Incumbent United National Party [8]
4 Mahinda Samarasinghe President's nomination 17 September 2018 17 September 2021 Sri Lanka Freedom Party
5 Bimal Rathnayaka Parliament's nomination 11 October 2018 10 October 2021 Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
6 Thalatha Atukorale Prime Minister's nomination 11 October 2018 10 October 2021 United National Party
7 R. Sampanthan Opposition Leader's nomination 5 April 2019 05 Arprl 2022 Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi [9]
8 Jayantha Dhanapala Nominated by the Prime Minister 11 October 2018 10 October 2021 Independent [10][11]
9 Naganathan Sellvakumaran Nominated by the Prime Minister 11 October 2018 10 October 2021 Independent [10]
10 Javed Yusuf Nominated by the Prime Minister 11 October 2018 10 October 2021 Independent [10]
Former Members
Seat No. Member Seat Joined Council Left Council/
End of term
Party Notes
4 Champika Ranawaka Prasident's nomination 9 September 2015 17 September 2018 Jathika Hela Urumaya Term Ended.[12]
6 Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Prime's Minister's nomination 9 September 2015 28 December 2017 United National Party Resigned.[13]
6 Tilak Marapana Prime's Minister's nomination 29 December 2017 22 September 2018 United National Party Term Ended.[14]
7 John Seneviratne Opposition Leader's nomination 22 September 2015 22 September 2018 Sri Lanka Freedom Party Term Ended.[14]
5 Vijitha Herath Parliament's nomination 22 September 2015 22 September 2018 Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Term Ended[14]
8 A. T. Ariyaratne Nominated by the Prime Minister 22 September 2015 22 September 2018 Independent Term Ended.[14]
9 Radhika Coomaraswamy Nominated by the Prime Minister 22 September 2015 22 September 2018 Independent Term Ended.[14]
10 Shibly Aziz Nominated by the Prime Minister 22 September 2015 22 September 2018 Independent Term Ended.[14]
2 Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister 9 September 2015 26 October 2018 United National Party Removed from Prime Minister [15]
3 R. Sampanthan Leader of the Opposition 9 September 2015 18 December 2018 Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi Term Ended after leaveing Office.[16]
2 Mahinda Rajapakse Prime Minister 18 December 2018 11 November 2018 Sri Lanka Freedom Party Suspened acting as Prime Minister and lost by a No confidence motion.[17][18]
7 Chamal Rajapaksa Opposition Leader's nomination 11 October 2018 10 January 2019 Sri Lanka Freedom Party Resign after Mahinda Rajapakse was apponined Opposition Leader
2 Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister 26 October 2018 22 December 2019 United National Party Resigned from post after elections.[19]
3 Mahinda Rajapakse Leader of the Opposition 18 December 2018 21 November 2019 Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Appointed as Prime Minister [20]

Staff[edit]

The Constitutional Council has the power to appoint officers it deems necessary for its functioning upon such terms and conditions as it may determine.[2]

Secretary General to the Constitutional Council

The Secretary General to the Constitutional Council is appointed, by the Constitutional Council, for a five-year renewable term.[2]

Functions[edit]

Commissions[edit]

The following independent commissions were established under the Constitutional Council:

Dr. Deepika Udagama was appointed as the new Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka on 20 October 2015. Sri Lanka also appointed members to Public Service Commission and the Police Commission on the same day.[21] Dharmasena Dissanayake has been appointed the Chairman of the Public Service Commission.[22] the Police Commission media unit said today.[23] Justice Titus Bodhipala Weerasuriya was appointed as the Chairman of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.[24] The President gave approval for the most important independent election commission, former election Mahinda Deshappriya was elected the chairman. By November 15, 9 out of 10 commissions were established with the promise given to the people from the Maithripala Sirisena and United National Party election manifestos in 2015 elections.[25]

Political nominations[edit]

Constitutional Council is responsible of giving their recommendations for high ranking posts of government institutions such as:[2]

The first such recommendation was to apportionment Gamini Wijesinghe for the post of Auditor General in November 2015. On 10 February 2016, Constitutional Council has recommended the Senior Solicitor General and President's Counsel Jayantha Jayasuriya for the post of Attorney General.[26]

Making history in Sri Lanka the Constitutional Council met on April 18, 2016 to make a recommendation for the post of Inspector General of Police. It was the first time in Sri Lanka a Constitutional Council with members represented by many political parties were collectively selected an IGP. Senior DIG Pujih Jayasundara was selected by 5 to 2 vote for the post.[27]

Procedure[edit]

Nominations

The Constitutional Council give recommendations as to who is to be appointed by the President for the high level political offices stated above. The council nominates and gives consents to one candidate to be appointed to office from the one or more candidates proposed to the council by the President. Candidates are endorsed after debate and a secret ballot, they may or may not appear before the council.[28] Once a final decision has been made the council will inform its decision to the President in writing.[29]

Duties & powers

The council shall submit to the President a report of its activities every three months. It has the power to make rules relating to the performance and discharge of its duties and function. All such rules shall be published in the Gazette and be placed before Parliament.[3]

"Subject to the provisions of Article 126, no court shall have the power or jurisdiction to entertain, hear or decide or call in question, on any ground whatsoever, or in any manner whatsoever, any decision of the Council or any approval or recommendation made by the Council, which decision, approval or recommendation shall be final and conclusive for all purposes.”[3]

Meetings[edit]

The Constitutional Council shall meet as frequently as possible when necessary for the performance of its functions, in addition to meeting at least twice a month. A quorum for the meeting of the Constitutional Council is five members. The Speaker shall take the chair of the Constitutional Council, however in his/her absence, the Prime Minister will take over, and in the absence of both the Leader of the Opposition shall take the chair. The Secretary General convenes all meetings of the Constitutional Council, upon the directions of the Chairman.[2]

2015
  • 10 September - The first meeting of the new Constitutional Council, held at the official residence of the Speaker, to discuss the appointment of the three Independent members and the appointment of the independent commissions.[30][31]
  • 21 September - Constitutional Council met[30]
  • 23 September - Constitutional Council met[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.asianmirror.lk/news/item/5782-full-text-of-maithripala-sirisena-s-election-manifesto
  2. ^ a b c d e Iddawala, Neil. "The who, what and how of our Constitutional Council". Sundaytimes.lk. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution" (PDF). yourconstitution.lk. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Ariyaratne, Radhika, Aziz nominated to CC". adaderana.lk. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Civil Representatives nominated to Constitutional Council". News.lk. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Parliament approves Representatives to Civil Constitutional Council". News.lk. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  7. ^ https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/mahinda-rajapaksa-becomes-lankas-new-prime-minister/article30036312.ece
  8. ^ https://www.newsfirst.lk/2019/12/05/sajith-premadasa-appointed-as-the-opposition-leader/
  9. ^ http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19A/Apr05_1554471449CH.php
  10. ^ a b c http://www.dailymirror.lk/156738/Members-appointed-for-Constitutional-Council-
  11. ^ http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/jayantha-dhanapala-appointed-to-the-constitutional-council/
  12. ^ https://lankanewsweb.net/news/67-general-news/32715-president-appoints-minister-mahinda-samarasinghe-to-the-constitutional-council
  13. ^ http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Wijeyadasa-resigns-from-CC-142991.html
  14. ^ a b c d e f http://www.colombopage.com/archive_18B/Sep22_1537604179CH.php
  15. ^ http://www.timeslanka.com/2018/10/26/ranil-wickremesinghe-out-mahinda-rajapaksa-swears-in-as-new-prime-minister-at-presidential-secretariat/
  16. ^ https://lankanewsweb.net/news/67-general-news/36767-mahinda-rajapaksa-appointed-opposition-leader
  17. ^ http://www.atimes.com/article/rajapakse-loses-no-confidence-motion-in-sri-lanka/
  18. ^ https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/mahinda-rajapaksa-cannot-take-actions-as-sri-lanka-pm-says-court-in-interim-order-1957081
  19. ^ https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sri-lanka-prime-minister-ranil-wickremesinghe-resigns/article30027679.ece
  20. ^ https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/mahinda-rajapaksa-becomes-lankas-new-prime-minister/article30036312.ece
  21. ^ http://www.adaderana.lk/news/32777/sri-lanka-appoints-new-human-rights-commission
  22. ^ http://www.adaderana.lk/news/32772/dharmasena-dissanayake-appointed-chairman-of-psc
  23. ^ http://www.adaderana.lk/news/32769/siri-hettige-appointed-chairman-of-police-commission
  24. ^ http://www.asianmirror.lk/news/item/12361-justice-titus-bodhipala-appointed-bribery-commission-chairman
  25. ^ http://asianmirror.lk/news/item/12907-mahinda-deshapriya-appointed-elections-commission-chairman
  26. ^ http://www.colombopage.com/archive_16A/Feb11_1455175533CH.php
  27. ^ http://www.adaderana.lk/news/34947/senior-dig-pujith-jayasundara-nominated-for-igp-post
  28. ^ "Sri Lanka's Constitutional Council split over new IGP". economynext. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  29. ^ "The Constitutional Council picked P. S. B. Pujith Jayasundara as the 34th Inspector General of Police (IGP)". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  30. ^ a b c "Sri Lanka's Constitutional Council holds its first meeting". ColomboPage. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  31. ^ "Constitutional Council To Meet Today". asianmirror.lk. Retrieved 24 April 2016.