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The Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly

T
he Framework Resolution for the Constitutional Assembly, in terms of Clause 5 (a), makes provision to establish a Steering Committee consisting of 21 members.
 
The Steering Committee is responsible for the business of the Constitutional Assembly and for preparing a Draft Constitutional Proposal for Sri Lanka. As such, the Steering Committee is the entity instrumental in driving the process of constitutional reform and is assisted by six Sub-Committees which were appointed by the Constitutional Assembly in respect of specified subject areas relevant to the making of a Constitution.
 
At the first sitting of the Constitutional Assembly held on 5th April 2016, the 21-member Steering Committee chaired by the Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, was appointed.
 
The other members of the Steering Committee appointed by the Constitutional Assembly are as follows:
The first meeting of the Steering Committee was held on 7th April 2016, and continues to conduct regular meetings to deliberate on substantive aspects of the Constitution as well as to take decisions on all activities relevant to the constitution drafting process.
 
At an early stage of the process, it was decided by the Steering Committee that the following subject matters would be dealt with directly by the Committee itself:
  • Matters covered by Chapter 1 and 2 of the present Constitution
  • Nature of the State
  • Sovereignty
  • Religion
  • Form of Government
  • Electoral Reforms
  • Principles of Devolution
  • Land
The principal mandate of the Steering Committee is to present a Draft Constitutional Proposal for Sri Lanka. It is also responsible for presenting an Interim Report and a Final Report to the Constitutional Assembly, containing agreed principles to be included in the Draft Constitutional Proposal. The Final Report will be submitted together with the Draft Constitutional Proposal for approval of the Constitutional Assembly.
 
At the very inception of the process of reform, the members of the Steering Committee as well as the sub-committees were furnished with documents such as the Ceylon Constitution Order in Council of 1946 (Soulbury Constitution), the First Republican Constitution of 1972, the Second Republican Constitution of 1978, the Draft Constitutional Bill of 2000, the Proposals the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) as basic reference material. The reference material also included the Report of the Committee on a New Chapter on Fundamental Rights (2006).
 
The Report of the Public Representation Committee (PRC) is a vital resource which has been/ is given due consideration by the Steering Committee. This Report, which contains summarized submissions of the public as well as recommendations of the Public Representations Committee, is considered an important source document on the present aspirations and needs of the people of Sri Lanka.
 

Following a decision by the Steering Committee, a newspaper advertisement was published on 10th May 2016 calling for further representations from members of the public on areas specifically deliberated by the Steering Committee. The extended deadline for making representations was 31st May 2016, and the representations received by the Steering Committee were forwarded to the Public Representations Committee for its consideration. Furthermore, representatives of political parties and of the nine provinces, i.e. Governors and Chief Ministers, were given an opportunity to appear before the Steering Committee and to address the Committee on various aspects of its deliberations, and were also invited to submit their views/proposals in writing.

One of the first matters that were taken up for discussion at the Steering Committee was Electoral Reforms. The intended outcome of the discussions was to reach consensus among political parties in adopting a new electoral system for Sri Lanka that would promote democratic representation and enhance direct accountability of candidates to their respective electorates.
 
The six Sub-Committees appointed by the Constitutional Assembly were mandated to make recommendations to assist the Steering Committee in respect of the subject areas of Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Law and Order, Public Finance, Public Service, and Center Periphery Relations. The Committee continues to meet regularly and will proceed to consider and deliberate upon all subject matter that would ultimately form the essence of a Draft Constitutional Proposal for Sri Lanka in terms of the Framework Resolution.
 
The Steering Committee is due to present the Interim Report to the Constitutional Assembly in November 2016. This Report will be followed by a Final Report incorporating amendments emanating from the debate before the Constitutional Assembly. The Final Report will be accompanied by the Draft Constitutional Proposal. The recommendations of the six Sub-Committee Reports are to be considered by the Steering Committee in formulating constitutional principles on the respective subject areas.
 

Naufel Abdul-Rahman

Designation - Secretary to the Leader of the House of Parliament

Qualifications - Bachelor of Law (Colombo), Dip. In Business Administration (Colombo), Fellow of the British Institute of Management (England)

Experience - Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon

Neil Iddawala

Neil Iddawala

Presently the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament, he is an LL.B graduate from the University of Colombo and an Attorney-at-Law by profession. He has worked in the Textile Corporation in 1988 as a Legal Assistant. He has practiced as an Attorney-at-Law at the District Court from 1988 to 1994. He joined the judiciary in 1994 and has functioned as an Additional District Judge and as a District Judge up to 2003. He was appointed Assistant Secretary General of Parliament in 2003 and became the Deputy Secretary – General in 2012. He has 13 years of experience and knowledge in all Parliament matters after having worked overseeing all divisions of Parliament.

, Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament functions as the Secretary to the Steering Committee.
 
At the second meeting of the Steering Committee held on 28th April 2016 it was resolved that a Management Committee should be appointed to make arrangements and facilitate the work of the Steering Committee, Sub-Committees, and all secretarial work including staff requirements. Accordingly, the following persons were appointed as members of the Management Committee:
  • Hon. (Dr.) Jayampathy Wickramaratne, MP – Co-chairman
  • Hon. M. A. Sumanthiran, MP – Co-chairman
  • Neil Iddawala, Chief of Staff, Deputy Secretary General of Parliament, and Secretary to the Steering Committee
  • Naufel Abdul-Rahman

    Designation - Secretary to the Leader of the House of Parliament

    Qualifications - Bachelor of Law (Colombo), Dip. In Business Administration (Colombo), Fellow of the British Institute of Management (England)

    Experience - Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon

    Naufel Abdul-Rahman,

    Naufel Abdul-Rahman

    Designation - Secretary to the Leader of the House of Parliament

    Qualifications - Bachelor of Law (Colombo), Dip. In Business Administration (Colombo), Fellow of the British Institute of Management (England)

    Experience - Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon

     Secretary to the Leader of the House of Parliament
  • Mrs. Bimba Jayasinghe Tillekeratne PC

    Designation - Additional Secretary (Legal Affairs) to the Hon. Prime Minister

    Qualifications - LLB (Colombo), Sri Lanka Law College, Post Graduate Diploma in International Law (Netherlands)

    Experience -Joined the Attorney General’s Department in 1983, rose to the ranks of Senior State Counsel, Deputy Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General and Senior Additional Solicitor General. Appointed President’s Counsel in 2011 and Solicitor General in 2014.

    Mrs. Bimba Jayasinghe Tillekeratne PC

    Mrs. Bimba Jayasinghe Tillekeratne PC

    Designation - Additional Secretary (Legal Affairs) to the Hon. Prime Minister

    Qualifications - LLB (Colombo), Sri Lanka Law College, Post Graduate Diploma in International Law (Netherlands)

    Experience -Joined the Attorney General’s Department in 1983, rose to the ranks of Senior State Counsel, Deputy Solicitor General, Additional Solicitor General and Senior Additional Solicitor General. Appointed President’s Counsel in 2011 and Solicitor General in 2014.

    , Additional Secretary (Legal Affairs) to the Hon. Prime Minister