Legal experts and analysts have pointed out that President Maithripala Sirsena’s Gazette notification in relating to the take over of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation might be in violation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
According to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the President is only allowed to assign to himself the subjects and functions of the ministries of Defence, Mahaweli Development and Environmental. It is a transitory provision until the conclusion of the term of the incumbent President.
However, the Gazette notification issued last night said the placing the SLRC under the Ministry of Defence makes way for “implementation of programmes for the promotion of peace, harmony and reconciliation among people while ensuring through the use of audio-visual media, enhancement of the entertainment quality and creation of a higher media culture using state-of-the-art technology.”
“The president can only hold subjects and functions relating to defence, mahaweli and the environment. My reading of the Article 51 of the 19A Act is that the parameters of these special powers do not license him to put any old subject or function under the Ministry of Defence,” Gehan Gunathilake, Head of Research at Veritè Research tweeted.
Political analyst Rasika Jayakody said, “The Gazette notification placing the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) under the Ministry of Defence is a grave threat to democracy and media freedom. This also sets a bad precedence and undermines the spirit of democratic governance in the country.”