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The Constitutional Assembly

T

he Framework Resolution of 9th March 2016 created a representative body known as the Constitutional Assembly whereby all 225 Members of Parliament sit as a committee for the purpose of drafting a Constitutional Proposal. The needs and aspirations of the people within the constitutional reform process is reflected through the composition of the Constitutional Assembly as a body comprising the democratically elected representatives of the people of Sri Lanka. The Constitutional Assembly is chaired by the Hon. Speaker of Parliament and is aided by seven Deputy Chairmen who have been elected by the Assembly to chair sittings in his absence. The quorum for meetings of the Constitutional Assembly is fixed at twenty and sittings are conducted within the Chamber of the Parliament. The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly are open to members of the public.

The Constitutional Assembly has the power to invite any person for consultation and to make submissions before the Assembly, and may call upon experts in any field or profession. On 5th May 2016, a Panel of Experts was appointed by the Constitutional Assembly in order to assist and advise the Assembly and its committees at various stages of the process.

The first sitting of the Constitutional Assembly was held on 5th April 2016 and was presided over by Hon. Karu Jayasuriya as the Chairman. The following seven members were elected as Deputy Chairmen of the Constitutional Assembly:

The Framework Resolution of March 2016 further provided for the setting up of a Steering Committee tasked with the preparation of the Draft Constitutional Proposal for consideration of the Constitutional Assembly. Accordingly, Steering Committee was appointed by the Constitutional Assembly on 5th April 2016 and is chaired by Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister. The 21 members of the Steering Committee reflects the general political party leadership within Parliament.

In preparing the Draft Constitutional Proposal for consideration of the Constitutional Assembly, the Steering Committee is aided by six Sub-Committees. These Sub-Committees were appointed by the Constitutional Assembly on 5th May 2016 to deliberate on areas of Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Law and Order, Public Finance, Public Service, and Center-Periphery Relations. The recommendations contained in the Final Reports by the Sub-Committees are to be considered by the Steering Committee in drafting constitutional proposals on the respective subject areas. The “Final Report” of the Steering Committee and the “Draft Constitutional Proposal” will be subject to deliberation and debate by the Constitutional Assembly.

The first round of subject matter deliberations of the Constitutional Assembly would commence at the stage of considering the (Interim) Report of the Steering Committee, which is expected to be presented to the Assembly in November 2016. The Final Report incorporating approved amendments will be submitted to the Constitutional Assembly thereafter, together with the Draft Constitutional Proposal containing the actual text of a Constitution for Sri Lanka. If the Constitutional Assembly approves the Draft Constitutional Proposal by a two-thirds majority, it will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers. The Draft Constitutional Proposal will also be presented to the Parliament. Thereafter, the Constitutional Assembly will stand dissolved.

With the dissolution of the Constitutional Assembly, the Draft Constitutional Proposal would be converted to a Bill for consideration by Parliament in accordance with the scheme laid out in the Second Republican Constitution of 1978 (present Constitution) for formally enacting a new constitution for Sri Lanka.

On 5th May 2016, the Constitutional Assembly appointed the Additional Secretary to the Constitutional Assembly in terms of Clause 4 (b) of the Framework Resolution. At the same sitting of the Assembly, the Panel of Experts was also appointed in terms of Clause 10 of the Resolution.

 

Official Report – 1st Meeting of the Constitutional Assembly

Official Report – 2nd Meeting of the Constitutional Assembly

Official Report – 3rd Meeting of the Constitutional Assembly

Official Report – 4th Meeting of the Constitutional Assembly