Whereas it appears to me to be necessary to establish a Commission of Inquiry
for the purposes hereinafter mentioned:
Now, therefore, I, Junius Richard Jayewardene, President, reposing great
trust and confidence in your prudence, ability and fidelity, do, in pursuance of
the provisions of section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Chapter 393), by
these present appoint you, the said -
Victor Tennekoon, Esquire,
Abdul Caffor Mohamed Ameer, Esquire,
Professor Alfred Jeyaratnam Wilson,
Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam,
Nugegoda Gabadage Pablis Panditharatna, Esquire,
Mohamed Reyal Thassim, Esquire,
Dr. Joseph Anthony Leopold Cooray,
Kanapathipillai Navaretnarajah, Esquire,
Professor Kingsley Muthumuni de Silva, and
Mohamed Abdul Azeez, Esquire
to be my Commissioners to inquire into and report on the following matters:-
(i) the existing structure of Local Government with a view to ascertaining
the manner in which economic development activity in a District could be planned
and co-ordinated at the level of the District through, District Ministers and
(ii) the constitution and composition of such Councils including the method
by which representatives to such Councils may be selected.
(iii) the powers, functions and duties that such Councils may exercise,
discharge and perform;
(iv) the determination of the subjects that shall devolve on such Councils
having regard to the proposals dated 22nd, June 1978, relating to District
Ministers and such Councils;
(v) the appointment of officers and servants to such Councils;
(vi) the manner in which such Councils shall direct and supervise the
activities of local authorities in respect of sanitation, health, education,
road construction, co-operatives, village irrigation schemes and settlement
under major irrigation schemes;
(vii) the financial structure and the methods of taxation in relation to such
(viii) the relationship between;
(a) the District Ministers and such Councils;
(b) the District Ministers and the Central Government;
(c) such Councils and the Central Government; and
(d) one such Council and another such Council.
And I do hereby appoint you the said Victor Tennekoon, Esquire, to be the
Chairman of the said Commission.
And I do hereby authorise and empower you, the said Commissioners, to hold
all such inquiries and make all other investigations into the aforesaid matters
as may appear to you to be necessary, and require you to transmit to me within
two months from the date hereof, a report thereon under your hands, setting out
the findings of your inquiries and your recommendations:
And I do hereby direct that the inquiry relating to the aforesaid matters
shall not be held in public:
And I do hereby require and direct all public officers and other persons to
whom you may apply for assistance or information for the purposes of your
inquiries and investigations to render all such assistance and furnish all such
information as may be properly rendered and furnished in that behalf:
And I do hereby declare that the provisions of section 14 of the aforesaid
Commissions of Inquiry Act shall apply to this Commission:
Given at Colombo, under the seal of the Republic of Sri Lanka, this Tenth day
of August, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy Nine.
By His Excellency's Command
Secretary to the President.
Chapter 1 of
Presidential Commission Report
We think it is important to place at the forefront of our Report a note on
our understanding of our Terms of Reference. This may be somewhat unusual but
has been rendered necessary because in response to our invitation through the
Press to make representations relevant to our Terms of Reference, certain views
have been expressed under the belief that our task is to inquire into the
validity or otherwise of and to find a direct solution to the ethnic problems
which have manifested themselves in a demand for a separate state.
It is appropriate to state at the outset that this exercise is not intended
to explicitly deal with any such problems.
The scheme that we have envisaged would be applicable to
of the 24 districts in the Island irrespective of their ethnic composition and
is not intended to provide a different political or administrative structure for
any particular part of the country.
This exercise takes place within the parameters of our Terms of Reference and
the Constitution which clearly excludes any scheme which conflicts with the
unitary character of the Republic of Sri Lanka.
The proposals in our Report do not involve the sharing of, or alienation, or
diminution of the sovereignty of the People with respect to legislative
executive or judicial powers.
Our Terms of Reference requires us to examine the structure of Local
Government in Sri Lanka, and to report on how best economic development
activities of each district should be planned and co-ordinated through District
Ministers and Development Councils.
Article 2 of the Constitution provides:
" 2. The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State."
This is one of the entrenched provisions of the Constitution in that any
amendment thereof requires not only a two-thirds majority in Parliament, but
also the approval of the People at a Referendum by Article 83 of the
The Language provisions in Chapter 4 as well as Fundamental Rights in Chapter
3 of our Constitution are also specifically directed towards the protection of
minorities. Provision is also contained in Article 126 for the right of seeking
redress from the Supreme Court in the case of any infringement or imminent
infringement of any Fundamental Right or language right recognized by Chapter 3
and Chapter 4 of our Constitution.
A further safeguard is found in Article 156 which provides for the
establishment of the office of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration
(Ombudsman) charged with the duty of investigating and reporting upon complaints
or allegations of the infringement of Fundamental Rights or other injustices by
public officers and officers of public corporations and local authorities.
Thus our Constitution reflects the three basic principles or essentials of
democracy - the sovereignty of the People, minority rights and political
equality; and in giving equal rights to all persons the Constitution is directed
towards the breaking down of all barriers of race, religion or caste, of
education, of culture and of want of opportunity.
In any society, the effective enjoyment of these rights requires not only
their formulation but also adequate measures for their observance by those in