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Sri Lanka’s 21st Constitutional Amendment:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: India and neighbourhood relations.

 

Context:

The government of Sri Lanka intends to introduce the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill.

 

Overview of the 21st Amendment:

  • It seeks to reduce the Presidency to a ceremonial position, retaining the powers of the President on all three armed forces.
  • However, almost all other key powers pertaining to governance, and cabinet ministers will be handed over to the Prime Minister.
  • It seeks to transfer powers of making key appointments from the President to the Constitutional Council.
  • The President would be required to act on the Prime Minister’s advice to determine the scope and functions of ministries and appoint ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers.

 

Previous amendments:

 

The 19th Amendment (2015):

  • It had removed the powers of the President to sack the Prime Minister at his discretion.
  • It restricted the President’s powers to dismiss Cabinet ministers as he was required to act on the advice of the Prime Minister.

 

The cabinet ministers could have been dismissed:

  1. Only if the Prime Minister ceased to hold office by death, resignation or otherwise, or,
  2. Only if the Parliament rejects a statement of government policy or the budget or,
  3. If the parliament passes a vote of no confidence against the Government.

 

20th Amendment (2020):

  • Increased the executive powers of a President.
  • It empowered the President to make key appointments to independent institutions.

 

What’s happening in Sri Lanka?

  • The proposed amendment comes at the time Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic and political crisis since it was liberated from British rule in 1948.
  • A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices heaped misery on the people.
  • Protesters have been gathering across the island nation, calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation, while his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as Prime Minister.
  • Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed as the new Prime Minister.

 

Need for these amendments:

  • The possibility of an amendment is also seen as a means of restoring peace to the country, with officials reaching out across party lines to address the current issue.
  • The change aims to address the country’s governance issue.

 

Current Affairs

 

Know all about the latest Sri Lankan crisis here.

 

Know more about India – Sri Lanka Relations here.

 

Insta Curious:

Do you know about the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the Sri Lankan Constitution.
  2. Latest Constitutional Amendments.
  3. Srilankan political system.

Mains Link:

Compare and contrast the powers of Sri Lankan President with that of Indian President.

 

Q.4) Which of the following are constitutional monarchies?

  1. Morocco
  2. Jordan
  3. Kuwait

Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None  

Sources: Indian Express.