Jan 09, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s former chief justice Sarath Silva, a controversial figure who locked horns with the executive in the last stages of his term says the island’s constitution has been hit by a “litany of violations.” In an interview with Namini Wijedasa of Labmimanews newspaper he speaks on the 17th amendment to the constitution which seeks to give independence to government machinery but is not implemented by the executive.

Sri Lanka’s state machinery lost its independence to work impartially starting from a constitution in 1971, which abolished an institution called civil service commission and later the institution of permanent secretaries of ministries was completely destroyed.

Q: The government says that the 17th amendment is seriously flawed and that it cannot be implemented until these loopholes are corrected. Do you think this argument is valid?

A: There is no serious flaw in the amendment as such. It was an amendment that everybody agreed with. In the present form, it (constitutional council) is sufficiently wide for some consensual process to take. My view is that there is no will to appoint because this is seen as huge limitation of the president’s discretion.