STATUS QUO FOR BUDDHISM TO REMAIN

Constitutional lawyer and MP Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne proposed changing the controversial definition of ‘Sri Lanka’ in the Interim Report to ‘Republic of Sri Lanka’ for clarity.

The MP was opening the Constitutional Assembly debate for the second day yesterday.

Dr. Wickramaratne pointed out the two clauses proposed by the Steering Committee to Article 9 of the Constitution have granted foremost place to Buddhism and have specifically stated that it is the duty of the State to protect and foster the BuddhaSasana.

Observing that some people have raised concerns over using ‘Sri Lanka’ instead of ‘Republic of Sri Lanka’ in the Interim Report, Dr Wickramaratne clarified that the report at the outset has clearly mentioned that ‘Sri Lanka is a free, sovereign and independent Republic’. “However, to allay suspicion in this regard, I propose changing it to ‘Republic of Sri Lanka’ in the draft Constitution,” he said.

The MP stressed that there is no proposal of secession in the Interim Report and it has clear provisions against secession which even the existing Constitution does not provide.

“No Provincial Council can declare any part of the territory of Sri Lanka to be a separate State or even speak in favour of secession. Moreover, it has the provision for the Centre to take over some or full powers of the Governor, Chief Minister, Provincial Cabinet of Ministers and other provincial authorities if any Provincial Council deliberately contravenes the Constitution or promote armed riots,” he added.

Commenting on the ‘ekiya rajya’, Dr Wickramaratne said if the translation ‘orumiththa nadu’ does not best reflect the meaning of ‘ekiya rajya’, a better word could be proposed.

It means ‘a State which is undivided and indivisible’, he stated. He said the only power taken away from the Governors is the power to override the Provincial Public Service Commission.

“This was done as per the request of all Provincial Chief Ministers,” he explained.

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