Monday, October 8, 2012

The Withdrawal one day and the Reinstatement a few days later – The Divi Neguma Bill – to be represented in Parliament

The Supreme Court ruled on the Legitimacy of the Divi Neguma Bill, and initially stated that it must first obtain assent from the Provincial Councils, under the Constitution. The Govt. therefore withdrew the Bill, and got assent from all the Provincial Councils as they control them all. The Northern Provincial Council in not constituted and therefore there is a legal determination as to whether the Governor of the Province a political appointee has the power to approve in the absence of the elected Council.

I am not sure if the SC reported on that, but as I suspect, they will opine that elections must first be constituted and then passed by the council. If it is not passed, then I do not know what will happen to the Bill, under the terms of the Constitution.

The Speaker is about to issue a statement in Parliament on Tuesday, as to whether this Bill will be resubmitted in its original form, or whether there will be drastic changes, so as not to offend the SC in its judgment on the legality of the provisions under the Constitution.

The previous version of the Bill contained a huge shift of powers to a new to be created, Ministry or Department of Divi Neguma, with a huge budget allocation, and the folding of the Samurdhi Authority and its people and assets to it amongst other changes. It was apparently taking on some of the powers currently vested in the Provincial Councils which required their assent to the changes. We shall watch this space in the next few days for further developments.

The apparent attempt by the Govt. to yet again interfere in the Independence of the Judiciary in this regard has introduced a further dimension to the methods adopted to get the Bill passed and the lack of the Northern Provincial Council’s assent to it, the argument of using the Governor’s authorization in its absence, further complicates this process.

There is a distinct feeling that the whole of this process, is to further Centralize the Government giving less powers, instead of devolving powers to the Provinces as constituted by the 13th Amendment. I personally am not in favor of Provincial Councils as it wasteful unneeded and adds a further level of bureaucracy, stifling growth, entrepreneurship and civic rights.

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