Constitutional Woes

The creation and preservation of a ‘Just and Free Society” “Dharmista Nivahal Samajayak” is the primary goal of the 1978 constitution.
To this end Sri Lanka was constituted into a Democratic Socialist Republic preserving the principles of representative democracy by way of a new Constitution. Freedom, Equality, Justice, Fundamental Human Rights and the Independence of the Judiciary will be ensured with it. These are the inherent elements of an intangible heritage that guarantee the dignity and well-being of the people and their succeeding generations.
 
The path for the creation of a “Just and Free Society” “Dharmista Nivahal Samajayak” was cleared by way of a new Democratic Socialist Constitution mandated by the people of this country at a general election held in July 1977. This mandate was supported by an overwhelming majority.
 
The Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties declare these principles. “Shall guide parliament, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers in the enactment of laws and governance of Sri Lanka for the establishment of a “Just and Free Society” “Dharmista Nivahal Samajayak”. 
 
The 1978 constitution is the work of the representatives of the people who were elected at the 1977 July General Election. They were entrusted with the task of drafting, enacting and operating a new republican constitution. The 1972 constitution on the other hand was the work of the people themselves as worded in the Constitution. The words of the text, “We, the people of Sri Lanka, being resolved in the exercise of our freedom and independence as a nation to give ourselves a Constitution which will declare Sri Lanka as a Sovereign and Independent Republic………..
 
India became a Republic two and a half decades before us. “We the People of India” says her Constitution, “having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, social, secular Democratic Republic………. in our constituent assembly this twenty sixth day of November 1949 do hereby adopt, enact…...”
 
The Indian Constitution has these goals and principles. “Justice – Social, economic and political liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Equality – of status and opportunity, to promote among them all (the people of India). Fraternity – Assuring the dignity and the integrity of the nation. “
 
Presumably these constitutions might not be interesting reading to many a reader. These are not part of our reading material. But one has to look it at this way. The Constitution is the instrument that defines the nature of our society. We who live in it have to have some knowledge of what really are its objectives and goals and how they are to be achieved. Don’t we want to be aware of how it is going to give us good governance? We ore demanding that the rule of law should be a living thing. The one question that has become the issue in agitation and campaign launched in this country for the achievement of good governance is the demand for the abolition of the present constitution with its Presidential system.
 
Acquiring knowledge of the constitution, at least some awareness of its goals and objectives, would be a strong bulwark against its infringement and neglect. 
 
The issue of Constitutional Reform is a live issue in India as well. Some thinkers in India seem to favors a presidential model while others favor amending the Constitution to meet the demand of the present.
 
It might be useful to mention a few current views that have been expressed. A book published by Indian Council of Social Science Research titled ‘Towards a New Era of Economic, Social and Political Reforms’ contains articles contributed by eminent writers and scholars.
 
“We must take our “Constitutional Reform for sustainable development in the Information Age. A policy perspective for constitutional review in India…” the writer M. Umapathy continues. “A constitution providing for a nation’s governance has essentially two parts viz., goals and instruments. Constitutional goals are more important than instruments. Instruments are meant to be subordinate and subservient to the goals. Good coherence between goals and instruments is essential for the fulfillment of a Constitution.”
 
With due credit to Umapathy, we must quote him a little further. “Goals of the Indian Constitution are one of the best in the world.
 
Liberty, equality, fraternity, justice, unity of the nation and dignity of the individual are very ennobling value aspirations of the Indian Constitution. Republicanism as a vital principle of the nature of government, democracy both as a form of government and a way of life, secularism as the vital political ethos of governing a multi-religions and multi-cultural society and federalism as a principle of a civilized respect and autonomy to the various regional linguistic interests and aspirations of a nation of sub-continental proportion, are not only superb but also the most inviolable goals of our Cconstitution. These are not only politically expressed in our preamble but constitutionally embedded and elaborated in latter parts of the Constitution.
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