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The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has been the constitution of the island nation of Sri Lanka since its original promulgation by the National State Assembly on 7 September 1978. It is Sri Lanka's second republican constitution, and its third constitution since the country's independence (as Ceylon) in 1948. As of September 2010[update] it has been formally amended 18 times.
History of the Constitution
When the United National Party (UNP) came to power in July 1977 with a five-sixths majority, the second amendment to the 1972 Constitution was passed on 4 October 1977 to establish an executive presidency, with J. R. Jayewardene (the then Prime Minister) becoming the first Executive President on 4 February 1978. Before the 1977 general election the UNP had sought a mandate from the people to adopt a new constitution. Accordingly a select committee was appointed to consider the revision of the existing Constitution.
The new Constitution, promulgated on 7 September 1978, provided for a unicameral parliament and an Executive President. The term of office of the president and the duration of parliament were both set at six years. The new Constitution also introduced a form of multi-member proportional representation for elections to parliament, which was to consist of 196 members (subsequently increased to 225 by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution).
The Constitution provided for an independent judiciary and guaranteed fundamental rights, providing for any aggrieved person to invoke the Supreme Court for any violation of his or her fundamental rights. The Constitution also provided for a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) who could investigate public grievances against government institutions and state officers and give redress. It also introduced anti-defection laws, and referendums on certain bills and on issues of national importance.
Provisions for amendment
Most provisions of the Constitution of Sri Lanka can be amended by a two-thirds majority in parliament. However, the amendment of certain basic features such as the clauses on language, religion, and reference to Sri Lanka as a unitary state require both a two-thirds majority and approval at a nation-wide referendum.
Amendments to date
|First Amendment||20 November 1978||Dealing with jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal|
|Second Amendment||26 February 1979||Dealing with resignations and expulsion of Members of the First Parliament|
|Third Amendment||27 August1982||To enable the President to seek re-election after 4years; vacation of office of President|
|Fourth Amendment||23 December 1982||Extension of term of first Parliament|
|Fifth Amendment||25 February 1983||To provide for by-election when a vacancy is not filled by the party|
|Sixth Amendment||8 August 1983||Prohibition against violation of territorial integrity|
|Seventh Amendment||4 October 1983||Dealing with Commissioners of the High Court and the creation of Kilinochchi District|
|Eighth Amendment||6 March 1984||Appointment of President's Counsel|
|Ninth Amendment||24 August 1984||Relating to public officers qualified to contest elections|
|Tenth Amendment||6 August 1986||To repeal section requiring two-thirds majority for Proclamation under Public Security Ordinance|
|Eleventh Amendment||6 May 1987||To provide for a Fiscal for the whole Island; also relating to sittings of the Court of Appeal|
|Twelfth Amendment||(Not enacted)|
|Thirteenth Amendment||14 November 1987||To make Tamil an official language and English a link Language, and for the establishment of Provincial Councils|
|Fourteenth Amendment||24 May 1988||Extension of immunity of President; increase of number of Members to 225; validity of referendum; appointment of Delimitation Commission for the division of electoral districts into zones; proportional representation and the cut-off point to be 1/8 of the total polled; apportionment of the 29 National List Members|
|Fifteenth Amendment||17 December 1988||To repeal Article 96A to eliminate zones and to reduce the cut-off point to 1/20th|
|Sixteenth Amendment||17 December 1988||To make provision for Sinhala and Tamil to be Languages of Administration and Legislation|
|Seventeenth Amendment||3 October 2001||To make provisions for the Constitutional Council and Independent Commissions|
|Eighteenth Amendment||8 September 2010||To remove the sentence that mentioned the limit of the re-election of the President and to propose the appointment of a parliamentary council that decides the appointment of independent posts like commissioners of election, human rights, and Supreme Court judges|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Website of the Parliament of Sri Lanka — Constitution
- Website of the Government of Sri Lanka — Constitution of Sri Lanka
- Website of the Government of Sri Lanka — Constitution of Sri Lanka (Without Amendments)
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