The expert committee appointed to draft a new constitution has sought a three-month extension to submit the final draft to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa while an initial draft is being studied by the Legal Draftsman’s Department, The Sunday Morning learnt.
Responding to a query by The Sunday Morning, Presidential Secretariat Director General – Legal Affairs Harigupta Rohanadeera confirmed that a request was made by the committee and that it was granted.
The extension gives the committee till December to submit a final draft.
Sources close to the committee said the extension was requested due to delays caused by the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the country.
The committee is chaired by Romesh de Silva PC and includes Gamini Marapana PC, Manohara De Silva PC, Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC, Samantha Ratwatte PC, Prof. Naazima Kamardeen, Dr. A. Sarveswaran, Prof. Wasantha Seneviratne, and Prof. G.H. Peiris. The nine-member committee to draft a new constitution was approved by the Cabinet in September last year.
When contacted on the matter, Minister of Justice Ali Sabry expressed confidence that the committee will have a final draft ready by the end of November.
President Rajapaksa pledged to replace the 1978 Constitution with a new one. The appointment of the expert committee is the first step in several processes that would be required to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka.
Several members of the Government, including some senior politicians, had called for the abolition of the provincial council (PC) system and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The call for the removal of the legislation prompted Indian authorities to reaffirm their stance that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should remain.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) criticised the postponement of a planned meeting in June with the President to discuss constitutional reforms. The TNA had submitted proposals for constitutional reforms to the President last year, and the expert committee.