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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council has held its first meeting after parliament approved three civil society representatives through provisions of the 21st amendment to the constitution.

The 21st amendment sought to re-instate the constitutional council which is tasked with making several senior public service appointments giving at least partial independence to the public service.

The meeting was held on Wednesday January 25 presided by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena who chairs the council.

Parliament said in a statement that Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and MP Sagara Kariyawasam had attended Wednesday’s inaugural meeting. The three civil society representatives Dr Prathap Ramanujam, Dr Dilkushi Anula Wijesundere and Dr Dinesha Samararatne also took part.

Opposition MP Kabir Hashim had conveyed his inability to attend due to unavoidable circumstances.

Future activities of the council along with the mandate of the Constitutional Council stipulated in the constitution and the other laws were discussed at the meeting, the statement said.

The constitution of the independent commissions specified in the Schedule to article 41B of the constitution was also discussed and the council which agreed to call for applications from interested and qualified individuals through a newspaper advertisement.

A newspaper advertisement will be published calling for applications for Members of the Election Commission, the Public Service Commission, the National Police Commission, the Audit Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, the Finance Commission and the Delimitation Commission and the National Procurement Commission.

“The Constitutional Council unanimously agreed to discharge duties and functions of the Council in an independent, accountable and transparent manner,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, a member of Sri Lanka’s election commission resigned on Wednesday, leading to a vacancy.


Sri Lanka election commission can function with three members: chairman

Sri Lanka’s once apolitical public service began to lose its independence from the Republican constitution when a Permanent Secretaries to ministries and a civil service commission of peers which appointed them was abolished.

The public service lost its independence to act justly by the people after the 1978 constitution when the now ‘temporary’ secretaries were appointed at the pleasure of the President. In a remarkable development, they also lost office when the Prime Minister lost office leaving the public service headless.

Any ministry secretary who defied an arbitrary order by a minister was sent to a ‘pool’ or siberia.

The 21st amendment also bars dual citizens from holding public office. (Colombo/Jan26/2023)

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