|Wednesday, 27 March 2002|
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The Constitutional Council, which is bound to play a key role in the affairs of the State in the future has finally been appointed. With this key institution coming into operation prospects are bright of the principal provisions of the vital 17th Amendment to the constitution coming into force.
As is well known, it is the Constitutional Council which will be charged with appointing the independent, police, elections and public service commissions which hold out the promise of depoliticizing the local body-politic to a substantive degree.
Depoliticization of society is of course, seen as a principal condition for the establishment of a measure of stability, peace and harmony in the country. The appointment of the Constitutional Council, then, could be considered an important landmark on the road to the achievement of collective happiness.
Over the past 53 years or more we have seen more downs than ups in the struggle for national advancement. One alarming development in the post-independence years, has been the steady rise to prominence of the politician and the corresponding disempowerment of the people. The constitutional empowerment of those wielding political power in affairs which impinge substantially on the well being of the people, is, correctly, seen as a principal reason for the near stranglehold of the politician over the public.
This unhappy outcome may not have been intended by constitution-makers, but the ground realities today have defeated their expectations. Instead of politicians being the servants of the public, they have turned out to be their virtual masters. From this perverse development flows most of our present-day ills, such as blatant power abuse by some holding important office.
It is, essentially, to contain this major blight that the independent commissions were conceived. Once they are established by the Constitutional Council, we are likely to have more autonomous police, election and public officers who would be acting with the public interest at heart and not prove pliant tools in the hands of politicians.
Law enforcement and elections would be sufficient to prove our point. Since the law enforcement agencies didn't enjoy independent status, most police officers were compelled to follow the dictates of politicians. At election times for instance, some police officers were compelled to act in a partisan manner. Besides bringing the police force into disrepute such manipulation led to blatant election irregularities.
The independent commissions hold out the promise of ending these distortions by providing for the independence of key state institutions. The Constitutional Council could very well be the corner stone for a more stable Sri Lanka.
Produced by Lake House