Dear Chief Minister (NPC) Please see article written by Neville Laduwahetty who is a lawyer profession.
This is the type of Goebbelsian propaganda carried out by Sinhalese racists like this writer is meant to hoodwink India and the international community.
There is no comparison with powers enjoyed by the states of India with powers enjoyed by the Provincial Councils. Under 13 A which created the provincial Councils all powers are vested in the non-elected Governor and not in the elected Chief Minister and the Council.
There is a long list of subjects under the concurrence list which allows the centre to act roughshod over the Council. It is not Police powers alone, what about land powers? Does the PC enjoy power over land? If so how come the Sinhala army is grabbing land – both private and crown lands – at its whims and fancies?
Lately a series of legislation enacted by Colombo has robbed the council of some of its powers. The Divineguma Act has taken over many functions of Provincial Councils. Among the functions are: implementation of provincial economic plans, rural development, food supply and distribution, construction activities, roads, bridges and ferries within a Province, rehabilitation of destitute persons and families, rehabilitation and welfare of physically, mentally and socially handicapped persons, market fairs, co-operatives, regulation of unincorporated societies and associations, agriculture, promotion and establishment of agricultural, industrial, commercial and trading
enterprises and other income generating projects and relief for the disabled and unemployable.
The Divineguma Development Department has l become a super-department not only at the expense of other central government departments but Provincial Councils as well. In India the Governor is only a ceremonial post. The state enjoys almost all powers except foreign affairs, defence, currency and national transport.
Powers relating to Law and order is vested in the state. The subjects of education, health, irrigation etc are vested in the state. It is time the Chief Minister of NPC effectively refute the arguments of this writer. In the 8 provinces the council, chief ministers and the governors belong to the same party.
But the NPC is different kettle of fish. A retired army general is the Governor. The Chief Secretary does not take orders from the Chief Minister. He/she takes orders from the governor. In fact the Chief Secretary has gone to the courts and filed a case against the CM alleging harassment. The Supreme Court has issued an Interim Order suspending the operation of the Administrative Standing Instructions of the Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran. This is a typical case of tail wagging the dog!
INDIA, NEW DELHI : Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C) arrives with Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development, Venkaiah Naidu (R) for the first session of India’s newly elected parliament in New Delhi on June 4, 2014. The first session of India’s newly elected parliament lasted only minutes as lawmakers immediately adjourned in a mark of respect for a government minister who died in a car crash with the process of swearing-in the 543 members of the Lok Sabha pushed back to June 5. AFP
By Neville Ladduwahetty
When Sri Lanka’s President met India’s newly elected Prime Minister Modi at the latter’s inaugural ceremony, it was widely reported that Mr. Modi had called for the “early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution”, and that Sri Lanka should “expedite the process of national reconciliation in a manner that meets the aspirations of the Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka”.
It is too early in the day for Prime Minister Modi to have been aware of all the facts associated with the 13th Amendment. Notwithstanding this, for Prime Minister Modi to call for the “full implementation of the 13th Amendment” means that he was influenced by an outdated text handed to him by a bureaucracy that is evidently unaware of the prevailing ground realities in Sri Lanka, including the extent to which the 13th Amendment has been implemented.
The following are the realities that India should be aware of:
1. That India was intimately involved in the actual drafting of the 13th Amendment.
2. That the framework of the 13th Amendment is modeled on arrangements in India for devolving power to its own regional states. This is clear from the fact that the scope, extent and even the wording in the 13th Amendment is strangely near identical to that in the Indian Constitution’s Article 153 onwards.
3. That India, by ensuring that the powers devolved to Sri Lanka’s provinces were near identical in extent and scope to those in its own states, made sure that the extent of devolution for the Sri Lanka’s provinces was neither more nor less than constitutionally granted in India.
4. That devolution under the 13th Amendment works when the Governor responsible for Executive functions and the Provincial Council responsible for Legislative functions cooperate for the benefit of the citizens they serve.
5. That except for the fact that under the Indian Constitution the Governors are appointed by the President of India who is the Head of State and vested with all Executive powers (Article 53), and the Governors under the 13th Amendment are appointed by the Executive President of Sri Lanka (Article 154B (2)), the powers and functions of under both arrangements are near identical in scope and content.
6. That the Tamil political leadership finds powers devolved under the 13th Amendment insufficient. However, any attempt to revise it upwards would precipitate similar demands in Tamil Nadu; a process that could reverberate throughout India with serious consequences to its stability and territorial integrity.
7. That in Sri Lanka, any attempts to revise the 13th Amendment upwards to meet the aspirations of the Tamil community would be resisted by the majority in the South, and attempts to revise it downwards to meet the concerns of the majority in the South would be resisted by the minority in the North.
8. That if the Tamils of India are able to fulfill their aspirations for equality, justice, peace and dignity under the prevailing constitutional provisions for devolution in India, it should be equally possible for the Tamils of Sri Lanka to meet their aspirations for equality, justice, peace and dignity under the near identical devolved powers.
9. That the Province as the devolved unit is not only a threat to the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka but to that of India as well.
10. That devolution of power under the 13th Amendment has been in operation in 7 Provinces since the late 1980s and with the end of the war, is now in operation in all 9 Provinces of Sri Lanka. Police powers have not been granted to any of the Provinces due to security reasons; a fact that should be recognized and appreciated by India in view of attempts within India to revive the LTTE. Land powers were in a recent ruling by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court declared as vested in the Republic (13th Amendment, Provincial Council List, Appendix II), and therefore cannot be included as a devolved subject. However, this does not in any way prevent Provinces from securing land for bona fide provincial projects.
FUTURE POSSIBILITIES for INDIA, SRI LANKA and the REGION
The 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution is the legacy of India’s misbegotten foray into Sri Lanka by a previous administration. The hope for Sri Lanka and the region is that the Prime Minister Modi’s administration would take a fresh and realistic view of what exists in Sri Lanka and its implications for the region. Since there cannot be reconciliation without political reconciliation it is imperative that Prime Minister Modi directs his administration to take a close and hard look at provisions for devolution both in India and Sri Lanka. Such a study would reveal that the provisions for devolution in India are near identical in scope, content and even wording to what is provided under the 13th Amendment.
It would also reveal that all the powers provided for under the 13th Amendment except for Police powers have been devolved to all the Provinces. Police powers cannot be devolved at this time for reasons of security not only in Sri Lanka but also in India considering ongoing attempts to revive the LTTE. A consequence of granting Police powers to the states in India is that states do not have the resources to effectively deal with the threats from the Maoist movement that has come to be acknowledged as the most serious threat to India’s internal security. Consequently nearly one third of the districts of India are beyond the writ of the Government of India. More recently, there was a considerable delay before the national Police of India could respond to the terrorist attack in Mumbai due to turf wars with the State Police. Based on India’s own experience therefore, it is imprudent to devolve Police power since security cannot be taken for granted. It is a mistake that clearly should not be replicated in Sri Lanka.
The absence of any form of agitation for greater political power in Tamil Nadu by the largest Tamil population anywhere in the world must mean that they are able to meet their aspirations for equality, justice. peace and dignity as a minority within India under India’s current constitutional arrangements. If the Tamils of Tamil Nadu are content with arrangements in India it must follow that the Tamils of Sri Lanka also should be able to meet their aspirations for equality, justice, peace and dignity under the provisions of the 13th Amendment in view of the great similarity in content and scope for regional political power, without any further amendments to the current constitutional provisions.
The fact that no attempt has been made thus far by the Sri Lankan Government or by its spokespersons and by civil society commentators to publicly acknowledge that the 13th Amendment has been implemented except for Police powers for very good reasons at this time, is beyond comprehension considering the flak that Sri Lanka is undergoing for this omission.
This omission has given cause for comments such as the “need for the expeditious implementation of the 13th Amendment”, or for the “meaningful implementation of the 13th Amendment; the most recent being from Prime Minister Modi for the “early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment”. But the fact that the 13th Amendment IS implemented already, and functioning in all 9 Provinces, with 36 of 37 subjects devolved, is kept under wraps for some unknown reason. Since there is an urgent need to bring this to the attention of the international community and in particular India, a global campaign needs to be undertaken without delay.
Since the newly elected Prime Minister of India hopes to make a paradigm shift in the affairs of India and the region, it is imperative that he directs his bureaucracy to undertake a clear and comprehensive study of the ground realities in Sri Lanka and brief him as to the status regarding the implementation of the 13th Amendment. Such a study would reveal that the 13th Amendment has in fact been implemented in all the provinces of Sri Lanka except for Police powers for very good reasons.
Furthermore, the near identical constitutional provisions for devolution in India, and those provided for under the 13th Amendment should also be brought to Prime Minster Modi’s attention. Considering the near identical provisions for devolution in India and Sri Lanka, if the Tamils of Tamil Nadu are content to meet their aspirations for equality, justice, peace and dignity as a minority in India, it should also be possible for a similar minority of Tamils in Sri Lanka to realize their aspirations.
This reality should also be brought to the attention of the political establishment in Tamil Nadu and a campaign undertaken by Sri Lanka to clear the misperception that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are somehow politically disadvantaged in relation to the Tamils of Tamil Nadu; a misperception often voiced by Tamil Nadu politicians.
The reason why India ensured that the scope and content for devolution in Sri Lanka were near identical to those enacted in India was to prevent disparities becoming grounds for agitation for political power between the Tamils in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the absence of demands for greater devolution within Tamil Nadu is testimony to the fact that Tamil Nadu is aware that India’s central government would not entertain any revisions to the current provisions for devolution because it would result in diluting powers at the center. A diluted center would run counter to the ambitions of India’s establishment which is to be a regional and global power. The fact that this realpolitik is missed by the Tamil leadership is evident from their continued pursuit for a federal arrangement in Sri Lanka, and notions of self-determination after misleading a whole generation of youth to lay down their lives for a misconstrued Utopia, not to mention the cost in terms of blood and treasure to the entire Sri Lankan nation.
The Indian political and bureaucratic establishment is driven by the imperative that India has to stay whole and territorially intact if it is to fulfill its ambition to become a regional and global power. If such ambitions are to be realized a necessary precondition is that the center is strengthened in keeping with the practices historically adopted by global powers. This means that India would not entertain any attempts to strengthen the peripheries by devolving more power to its states at the expense of weakening the center. It then must follow that if India would want to retain the status quo as far as devolved power to its states are concerned, India would discourage more power being devolved than provided under the 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka. It is only the current regime in India with its unassailable majority that is in a position to convey clearly and unambiguously to the Tamils in Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka that it is not in India’s long term national interests to entertain devolving powers to the peripheries over and above the current provisions.
By Neville Ladduwahetty