Representatives of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, President’s Counsel Manohara R. De Silva and Prasanna De Alwis highlight the harmful consequences of the 13th Amendment to the nation.
The lawyers who gave an insight into the 13th Amendment from a legal perspective maintained that the biggest issue in the 13th Amendment was with the Police Rights.
De Silva explained that while Provincial Councils did not have their own police forces currently, after the elections in the Northern Province, under the 13th Amendment the Northern Provincial Council had the right to ask for a Provincial Police Commission.
“Police powers and all power relating to law and order and public order are set out in the Provincial Councils list,” he stated.
“This empowers Provincial Councils not only to exercise police powers but also to legislate on any matter falling within the subject of law and order.
" If we blocked these rights, we would be accused of violating the Constitutional and human rights of the Northern people. They can even take it to international courts. It could put the foundation for an even more severe, revolution or a civil war. "
“The danger is that the powers given to the provincial police commission override the powers of the National Police.”
Echoing the views of De Silva, De Alwis stated that according to the provisions in the 13th Amendment, the National Police had no right to wear their police uniforms in the provinces.
“There are several restrictions placed on the national police division under the 13th Amendment,” he said.
“If chasing a criminal, the national police don’t have the right to follow the said criminal to another province and make an arrest without the permission of the Provincial Council. Considering the small size of our country, it makes it very easy for criminals to escape. This is just one example of how the 13th Amendment undermines the powers of the National Police.”
He stated that by giving police rights to the provincial councils, the rule of law in the country could be damaged.
“When we give these rights to the North, we will have to do so to other provinces as well,” he pointed out. “The result would be that there would be varying laws in the country. In such a situation it becomes problematic to implement the laws that govern the nation.”
According to De Silva the biggest threat posed to the nation due to the 13th Amendment was that information to the central government was blocked by the restrictions placed on the National Police.
“It is through the police that the central government can receive information about terrorist threats and other such intelligence,” he stated.
“Since the national police was basically powerless in the midst of a provincial police, these vital dispatches of information are blocked from reaching the government. This could be a very dangerous situation as it poses a threat to national security.”
He added that after holding elections in the North, if the government doesn’t give the provinces the rights highlighted in the 13th Amendment, the country would be inviting trouble from the international community.
De Silva also highlighted that even though the 13th Amendment followed the Indian Constitution, even the Indian central government still reserved the right to intervene in certain situations. However, he revealed that the 13th Amendment of Sri Lanka withheld these powers of the central government, thus making it even more dangerous to the nation than in the Indian Constitution.
“If the 13th Amendment was still in place after a Northern Provincial Council was established, constitutionally we would have to give them these rights included in it,” De Silva said. “If we blocked these rights, we would be accused of violating the Constitutional and human rights of the Northern people. They can even take it to international courts. It could put the foundation for an even more severe, revolution or a civil war. “Therefore, it is crucial to abolish the 13th Amendment or at least remove these dangerous provisions from it before holding elections,” he said.