New Constitutional Amendment for Quick Presidential Elections on the Way

Mahinda on Highway

Govt Drafting New Constitutional Amendment to Reduce Office Terms of President and Chief Justice and Dilute Provincial Council Powers- Explains- D BS Jeyaraj-

 The United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA) Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa is planning to reduce the terms of office of the Executive President and Chief Justice as well as restricting the powers of Provincial Councils.

It is learnt that the Govt is currently engaged in drafting the required amendments to the present Constitution.

Although the Govt is keen to make all Constitutional changes through a single Amendment with multiple clauses there may be two separate amendments if necessary depending upon legal advice.

According to current thinking in top Govt circles the President’s term of office is to be reduced from six years to five.This would also enable the incumbent President to seek new elections after being in office for three instead of four years.There will be no restrictions on the number of terms a Person could hold if elected.

The Govt also intends restricting the term of office held by a Chief Justice to five years. Presently a chief justice is eligible to hold office for any number of years until reaching the age of sixty-five.

More importantly the Govt also intends to bring about far reaching changes to the existing power structure of the Provincial Councils set up under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution brought about by the India-Sri Lanka accord of July 29th 2013. The proposed new amendment would change or curtail certain provisions of the 13th amendment in the same way that the 18th Amendment affected the earlier 17th amendment.

An important change to be effected in this regard relates to Police powers.Though Police powers have already been devolved to a certain extent by the 13th Amendment none of the elected Provincial Councils have been able to exercise those powers as the Police Commission Act, No. 1 of 1990 providing for the establishment of a National Police Commission and a Provincial Police Commission for each province has still not been brought into operation by successive past Governments.

The Rajapaksa Govt now intends to take back most of the Police powers ,duties and functions allocated to the Provincial Councils except for a few minor spheres like Traffic and community policing.

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