Law of Sri Lanka

Constitution of the Democratic Socialist republic of Sri Lanka-1978

CONSTITUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA

[Date of Commencement: 7th September 1978]

Arrangement of Articles

CHAPTER I-THE PEOPLE, THE STATE AND SOVEREIGNTY

1. The State.
2. Unitary State.
3. Sovereignty of the People.
4. Exercise of Sovereignty.
5. Territory of the Republic.
6. The National Flag.
7. The National Anthem.
8. The National Day.

CHAPTER II-BUDDHISM

9. Buddhism.

CHAPTER III-FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

10. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
11. Freedom from torture.
12. Right to equality.
13. Freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention and punishment and prohibition of retrospective penal legislation.
14. Freedom of speech, assembly, association, occupation and movement.
14a. Right of access to information.
15. Restrictions on fundamental rights.
16. Existing written law and unwritten law to continue in force.
17. Remedy for the infringement of fundamental rights by executive action.

CHAPTER IV-LANGUAGE

18. Official Language.
19. Natonal Languages.
20. Use of National Languages in Parliament, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities.
21. Medium of instruction.
22. Language of administration.
23. Language of legislation.
24. Languages of the courts.
25. Provision for adequate facilities for use of languages provided for in this Chapter.
25a. Provision of any law inconsistent with this Chapter deemed to be repealed.

CHAPTER V CITIZENSHIP

26. Citizenship of Sri Lanka.

CHAPTER VI DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY AND FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

27. Directive Principles of State Policy.
28. Fundamental duties.
29. Principles of State Policy and fundamental duties not justifiable.

CHAPTER VII THE EXECUTIVE

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

30. The President of the Republic.
31. The election and the term of office of the President.
32. Assumption of office.
33. Powers and functions of the President.
33a. Repealed.
34. Grant of pardon.
35. Immunity of President from suit.
36. Salary and pension.
37. Exercise, performance and discharge of the powers, duties and functions of the President by the Prime Minister.
38. Vacation of office by the President.
39. Determination by the Supreme Court that the President was not duly elected or the election of the President was void.
40. Vacation of office by the President and election of succeeding President.
41. President’s staff.

CHAPTER VIIA THE EXECUTIVE

THE PARLIAMENTARY COUNCIL

41a. President to make the appointments in respect of the Commissions and offices referred to in the Schedules.

CHAPTER VIII

THE EXECUTIVE
THE CABINET OF MINISTERS

42. Responsibility of the President.
43. Cabinet of Ministers.
44. Ministers of Cabinet and their subjects and functions.
45. Ministers who are not members of the Cabinet and their Ministries, subjects and functions.
46. Deputy Ministers.
47. Tenure of office of the Prime Minister, Ministers and Deputy Ministers and the limitation of number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
48. Cabinet of Ministers after dissolution of Parliament.
49. Dissolution of Cabinet of Ministers.
50. Acting Minister and acting Deputy Minister.
51. Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary to the Cabinet of Ministers.
52. Secretaries to Ministries.
53. Official oath or affirmation.

CHAPTER IX

THE EXECUTIVE

THE PUBLIC SERVICE

54. Public Service Commission.
55. Powers and functions of the Cabinet of Ministers and of the Commission.
56. Committees of the Commission.
57. Delegation of powers to a public officer.
58. Right of appeal.
59. Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
60. Commission not to exercise power where there is delegation.
61. Procedure at meetings.
61a. Immunity from legal proceedings.
61b. Savings of rules and regulations in force.
61c. Interference with the Commission.
61d. Oath or affirmation of office.
61e. Appointments by the President.
61f. Interpretation.

CHAPTER X

THE LEGISLATURE

PARLIAMENT

62. Parliament.
63. Official oath or affirmation.
64. Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees.
65. Secretary-General of Parliament.
66. Vacation of seats.
67. Privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament and Members.
68. Allowances of Members.
69. Power of Parliament to act notwithstanding vacancies.

CHAPTER XI

THE LEGISLATURE

PROCEDURE AND POWERS

70. Sessions of Parliament.
71. Adjournment.
72. Voting.
73. Quorum.
74. Standing Orders.
75. Legislative power.
76. Delegation of legislative power.
77. Duties of Attorney-General in regard to published Bills.
78. Publication of Bills and passing of Bills and resolutions.
79. Certificate of Speaker.
80. When Bill becomes law.
81. Expulsion of Members and imposition of civic disability.

CHAPTER XII

THE LEGISLATURE

AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION

82. Amendment or repeal of the Constitution must be expressed.
83. Approval of certain Bills at a referendum.
84. Bills inconsistent with the Constitution.

CHAPTER XIII

THE REFERENDUM

85. Submission of Bills to people by referendum.
86. Submission of matters of national importance to people by referendum.
87. Parliament to provide for procedure.

CHAPTER XIV

THE FRANCHISE AND ELECTIONS

88. Right to be an elector.
89. Disqualification to be an elector.
90. Qualification for election as a Member of Parliament.
91. Disqualification for election as a Member of Parliament.
92. Disqualification for election as President.
93. Election to be free, equal and secret.
94. Election of the President.
95. Delimitation Commission.
96. Electoral districts.
96a. Repealed.
97. Proclamation of names of electoral districts.
98. Number of members to be returned by the several electoral districts and their apportionment among such electoral districts.
99. Proportional representation.
99a. Election of Members of Parliament on the basis of the total number of votes polled at a General Election.
100. Penalty for sitting and voting in Parliament when disqualified.
101. Parliament may make provision in respect of elections.
102. Public officer or an officer of a Public Corporation not to function during period of election.

CHAPTER XIVA

ELECTION COMMISSION

103. Election Commission.

104. Meetings of the Commission.

104a. Finality of decisions and immunity from suit.

104b. Powers, functions and duties of the Commission.

104c. Deployment of police by the Commission.

104d. Deployment of Armed Forces.

104e. Commissioner-General of Elections and other officers of the Commission.

104f. Returning Officers.

104g. Public officers.

104gg. Failure to comply with directions to be an offence.

104h. Power of Supreme Court to issue writs.

104j. Interpretation.

CHAPTER XV

THE JUDICIARY

105. Establishment of courts.

106. Public sittings.

INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

107. Appointment and removal of Judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
108. Salaries of Judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
109. Acting appointments.
110. Performance or discharge of other duties or functions by Judges.
111. Appointment, removal and disciplinary control of Judges of the High Court.
111a. Commissioners of the High Court.
111b. Fiscal for the whole island.
111c. Interference with judiciary an offence.

CHAPTER XVA

JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION

111d. Constitution of the Judicial Service Commission.
111e. Meetings of the Commission.
111f. Allowances of members of the Commission.
111g. Secretary to the Commission.
111h. Powers of the Commission.
111j. Judicial officers and scheduled public officers may resign.
111k. Immunity from legal proceedings.
111l. Interference with the Commission an offence.
111m. Interpretation.
112-115. Repealed.
116. Re-numbered as Art 111C.
117. Repealed.

CHAPTER XVI

THE SUPERIOR COURTS

THE SUPREME COURT

118. General jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
119. Constitution of the Supreme Court.
120. Constitutional jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
121. Ordinary exercise of constitutional jurisdiction in respect of Bills.
122. Special exercise of constitutional jurisdiction in respect of urgent Bills.
123. Determination of the Supreme Court in respect of Bills.
124. Validity of Bills and legislative process not to be questioned.
125. Constitutional jurisdiction in the interpretation of the Constitution.
126. Fundamental rights jurisdiction and its exercise.
127. Appellate jurisdiction.
128. Right of appeal.
129. Consultative jurisdiction.
130. Jurisdiction in election and referendum petitions.
131. Jurisdiction in respect of the breaches of the parliamentary privileges.
132. Sittings of the Supreme Court.
133. Appointment of ad hoc Judges.
134. Right to be heard by the Supreme Court.
135. Registry of the Supreme Court and office of Registrar.
136. Rules of the Supreme Court.

THE COURT OF APPEAL

137. The Court of Appeal.
138. Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.
139. Powers in appeal.
140. Power to issue writs, other than writ of habeas corpus.
141. Power to issue writ of habeas corpus.
142. Power to bring up and remove prisoners.
143. Power to grant injunctions.
144. Parliamentary election petitions.
145. Inspection of records.
146. Sittings of the Court of Appeal.
147. Registry of the Court of Appeal and office of Registrar.

CHAPTER XVII

FINANCE

148. Control of Parliament over public finance.

149. Consolidated Fund.

150. Withdrawal of sums from Consolidated Fund.

151. Contingencies Fund.

152. Special provisions as to Bills affecting public revenue.

153. Auditor-General.

153a. Repealed.

153b. Repealed.

153c. Repealed.

153d. Repealed.

153e. Repealed.

153f. Repealed.

153g. Repealed.

153h. Repealed.

154. Duties and functions of Auditor-General.

CHAPTER XVIIA

154a. Establishment of Provincial Councils.

154b. Governor.

154c. Exercise of executive powers by the Governor.

154d. Membership of Provincial Councils.

154e. Term of office.

154f. Board of Ministers.

154g. Statutes of Provincial Councils.

154h. Assent.

154j. Public Security.

154k. Failure to comply with directions.

154l. Failure of administrative machinery.

154m. Parliament to confer powers of the Provincial Councils to President.

154n. Financial instability.

154p. High Court.

154q. Functions, powers and elections of Provincial Councils.

154r. Finance Commission.

154s. Special provisions enabling Provincial Councils not to exercise powers under this Chapter.

154t. Transitional measures.

CHAPTER XVIII

PUBLIC SECURITY

155. Public Security.

CHAPTER XVIIIA

NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION

155a. Constitution of the National Police Commission.

155b. Meetings of the Commission.

155c. Immunity from legal proceedings.

155d. Secretary to the Commission.

155e. Costs and expenses.

155f. Interference with the Commission.

155ff. Powers of the Commission.

155fff. Commission to make rules.

155g. Repealed.

155h. Repealed.

155j. Repealed.

155k. Repealed.

155l. Repealed.

155m. Saving of existing rules and regulations.

155n. Commission answerable to Parliament.

CHAPTER XIX

THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER FOR ADMINISTRATION

156. Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

CHAPTER XIXA

REPEALED

156a. Repealed.

CHAPTER XIXB

REPEALED

156b. – 156h. Repealed.

CHAPTER XX

GENERAL

157. International treaties and agreements.

157a. Prohibition against violation of territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.

158. Delegation.

159. Deputy Speaker to act for Speaker.

CHAPTER XXI

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

160. First President.

161. First Parliament.

162. Application of certain provisions.

163. Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court to cease to hold office.

164. Continuation in office of Judges, public officers and others.

165. Oath or affirmation to be taken or made by public officers and others.

166. Powers, privileges, immunities and rights of the Republic.

167. Rights, duties and obligations of the Republic.

168. Past operation of laws, previous acts, offences and pending action.

169. Provisions relating to judiciary.

169a. Provisions relating to Queen’s Counsel and Senior Attorneys-at-Law.

CHAPTER XXII

INTERPRETATION

170. Interpretation.

CHAPTER XXIII

REPEAL

171. Repeal.

CHAPTER XXIV

PROMULGATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

172. Promulgation of the Constitution.


SCHEDULES

APPENDICES

1st Amendment 1978,
2nd Amendment 1979,
3rd Amendment 1982,
4th Amendment 1982,
5th Amendment 1983,
6th Amendment 1983,
7th Amendment 1983,
8th Amendment 1984,
9th Amendment 1984,
10th Amendment 1986,
11th Amendment 1987,
13th Amendment 1987,
14th Amendment 1988,
15th Amendment 1988,
16th Amendment 1988,
17th Amendment 2001,
18th Amendment 2010.,
19th Amendment 2015,
20th Amendment 2020.


The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

SVASTI

The PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA having, by their Mandate freely expressed and granted on the Sixth day of the waxing moon in the month of Adhi Nikini in the year Two Thousand Five Hundred and Twenty-One of the Buddhist Era (being Thursday, the Twenty-First day of the month of July in the year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy-Seven), entrusted to and empowered their Representatives elected on that day to draft, adopt and operate a new Republican Constitution in order to achieve the goals of a DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC and having solemnly resolved by the grant of such Mandate and the confidence reposed in their said Representatives who were elected by an overwhelming majority, to constitute SRI LANKA into a DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC, whilst ratifying the immutable republican principles of REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY and assuring to all peoples FREEDOM, EQUALITY, JUSTICE, FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS and the INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY as the intangible heritage that guarantees the dignity and well-being of succeeding generations of the People of SRI LANKA and of all the people of the World, who come to share with those generations the effort of working for the creation and preservation of a JUST AND FREE SOCIETY:

WE, THE FREELY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA, in pursuance of such Mandate, humbly acknowledging our obligations to our People and gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain and preserve their rights and privileges so that the Dignity and Freedom of the Individual may be assured, Just, Social, Economic and Cultural Order attained, the Unity of the Country restored and Concord established with other Nations, do hereby adopt and enact, this CONSTITUTION as the SUPREME LAW of the DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA

[Date of Commencement: 7th September 1978]

CHAPTER I

THE PEOPLE, THE STATE AND SOVEREIGNTY

1. The State.

Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a Free, Sovereign, Independent and Democratic Socialist Republic and shall be known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

2. Unitary State.

The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State.

3. Sovereignty of the People.

In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the people and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise.

4. Exercise of Sovereignty.

The Sovereignty of the people shall be exercised and enjoyed in the following manner—

(a) the legislative power of the people shall be exercised by Parliament, consisting of elected representatives of the people and by the people at a referendum;

(b) the executive power of the people, including the defence of Sri Lanka, shall be exercised by the President of the Republic elected by the people;

(c) the judicial power of the people shall be exercised by Parliament through courts, tribunals and institutions created and established or recognised by the Constitution or created and established by law, except in regard to matters relating to the privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament and of its Members wherein the judicial power of the people may be exercised directly by Parliament according to law;

(d) the fundamental rights which are by the Constitution declared and recognised shall be respected, secured and advanced by all the organs of government and shall not be abridged, restricted or denied, save in the manner and to the extent hereinafter provided; and

(e) the franchise shall be exercisable at the election of the President of the Republic and of the Members of Parliament and at every referendum by every citizen who has attained the age of eighteen years and who, being qualified to be an elector as hereinafter provided, has his name entered in the register of electors.

5. Territory of the Republic.

The territory of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall consist of the twenty-five administrative districts, the names of which are set out in the First Schedule and its territorial waters:

Provided that administrative districts may be subdivided or amalgamated so as to constitute different administrative districts, as Parliament may by resolution determine.

[Art 5 am by s 2 of Seventh Amendment to the Constitution.]

6. The National Flag.

The National Flag of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be the Lion flag depicted in the Second Schedule.

7. The National Anthem.

The National Anthem of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be “Sri Lanka Matha”, the words and music of which are set out in the Third Schedule.

8. The National Day.

The National Day of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be the fourth day of February.

CHAPTER II

BUDDHISM

9. Buddhism.

The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).


Under Construction

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