Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home >Tamils: a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution: Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam Pact, 1957 >Dudley Senanayake - Chelvanayakam Agreement, 1965 > District Councils, 1968 > District Development Councils, 1979 > Annexure "C" Proposals, 1983> All Party Conference, 1983/84  >Thimpu Talks, 1985 > Indo Sri Lanka Working Paper, 1985 > "December 19th Proposals", 1986 > Exchange of Letters between India & Sri Lanka, 1987 > Indo Sri Lanka Agreement, 1987 > Minutes of Dixit - LTTE Meeting, 28 September 1987 >13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution - Devolution or Comic Opera?, 1988 > Sri Lanka/LTTE Talks 1989/90 > Select Committee - Interim Report,1992 > Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95 > Chandrika's 'Devolution' Proposals:1995/2001 > Norwegian Conflict Resolution Initiative - 2001 todate

Mangala Moonesinghe Parliamentary Select Committee
- Interim Report 1992

[see also Sri Lanka Parliamentary Select Committee Farce
- Nadesan Satyendra, November 199

Your Committee was constituted following the unanimous adoption by Parliament on 9th August, 1991 of the following motion moved by Mr. Mangala Moonesinghe and seconded by Mr. Stanley Tillekeratne:

"That this Parliament is of opinion that a Select Committee of Parliament be appointed

(a) to arrive at a political solution to the question involving the devolution of power to the Northern and Eastern Provinces;

(b) to prevent - (i) the disintegration of the nation; (ii) the killings of innocent civilians, members of the Armed Forces and the Youths fighting for a cause; (iii) the increased militarization of the culture of violence in our country; and

(c) to achieve peace and political stability and utilize the reduced defence expenditure for rapid economic growth and national development.

That the Committee shall -

(a) have the power to fix its quorum;

(b) have the power to summon any person to appear before it, to require any person to produce any document or record, to procure and receive all such evidence, written or oral, as the Committee may think it necessary for the fullest consideration of the matters referred to above, and

(c) have the power to report from time to time and to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of Parliament."

While moving the motion Mr. Moonesinghe proposed an amendment to delete the word "national" which appeared in the notice between the words "the" and "question" in paragraph (a). The House agreed to the amendment.

Hon. Speaker thereafter appointed a Committee of 45 Members representing all parties in Parliament under the Chairmanship of Mr. Mangala Moonesinghe. This is the largest Select Committee in the history of the Parliament of Sri Lanka. At its first meeting held on 20th November 1991 the Committee fixed its quorum at fourteen.

The Committee has held 43 meetings to date. Your Committee at its meeting on 20th November 1991, decided to call for written representations from the public on matters relating to its Order of Reference. This decision was advertised in the Press and given publicity through radio and television in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The closing date for such representations was fixed for 16th December 1991.

Your Committee subsequently decided that representation received up to 10th January 1992 would be considered. Your Committee received 253 memoranda. Memoranda were received from Members of Parliament, political parties, other organizations and individuals. Where clarification of the submissions was found to be necessary, the Committee examined the Members of Parliament, representatives of political parties and other organizations and individuals (Vide Appendix I).

The Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation in Sri Lanka, Mr. Piarre Wettach, in March 1992, confirmed in writing to the Chairman that he had met two members of the LTTE viz. Mr. G. Mahendrarajah (Mahattaya) and Mr. Balasingham who had informed him that a delegation from the Select Committee would be welcome in Jaffna.

Your Committee informed Mr. Wettach that any representation from the LTTE would be welcome and that they wished this to be conveyed to the LTTE. However, the Committee notes with regret that there has been no response whatsoever from the LTTE in this regard up to date proposals and evidence, the following issues emerged for consideration:

(a) whether the temporarily merged Northern and Eastern provinces should continue to be one unit with special arrangements made to safeguard the interests of Muslims: (

(b) whether the Northern and Eastern Provinces should be separated and that each should be an independent unit of devolution.

(c) whether the temporary North-East merger should continue except for the Sinhala populated areas to be excised and annexed to the neighbouring Provinces; and

(d) whether the unit of devolution should be the District.

As Your Committee continued its deliberations, it became clear that misunderstanding and mistrust prevailed on issues pertaining to colonization of lands, law and order and delays in implementation of legislation relating to devolution. The Committee decided that public servants who had access to information and specialized knowledge of the subject should be summoned to give evidence.

Public Officers were examined on the following subjects:


The Land Commissioner, the Secretary, Ministry of Lands, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development and the Director, Planning in the Mahaweli Development Authority were summoned to give evidence and produce documents pertaining to relevant data on land settlement in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Their evidence related to land settlement in those Provinces since independence in 1948 together with an ethnic classification of those settled in the colonization schemes (Vide Appendix II).

 Law and order

The Inspector-General of Police gave evidence on the relevant aspects of law and order. He explained that there were provisions in the Constitution under the 13th Amendment to establish a National Police Service and Provincial Police Service (Vide Appendix III).


Members of the Finance Commission outlined the principles upon which financial disbursements are made to Provincial Councils for capital outlays and recurrent expenditure. The Secretary, Ministry of Finance indicated to the Committee that the objective of the Commission was to encourage the Provincial Councils to expand their revenue base and take an initiative in revenue collection in order to be financially viable.

Your Committee also summoned the Director, External Resources who held the view that it would be useful to allow the Chief Ministers to take preliminary steps to procure foreign loans and aid to develop their respective Provinces provided that the Central Government also participated in the negotiations (Vide Appendix IV). It was apparent from the evidence of these public servants that the devolution contemplated in the legislation relating to Provincial Councils had not been fully implemented. Your Committee is unanimous that there should be a greater devolution of power and that such devolution should be put into effect within specified time.

Your Committee was also of the view that not only should more power be devolved in conventional subjects such as health and transport, but also in matters such as foreign aid and foreign concessionary loans and that the Chief Executive of a Province must be encouraged to take the initiative in negotiating external financial assistance to develop the Province provided that the Central Government also participated in the negotiations.

In the course of the deliberations on the conflicting issues raised a Concept Paper was tabled embodying a compromise which provided for two separate Councils and an Apex Assembly consisting of Members of the two Councils to plan common policies and coordinate programmes. The paper presented a flexible framework for discussion.

The Paper was rejected by Members of the Committee belonging to the Ceylon Workers' Congress and the Tamil United Liberation Front. Subsequently an Option paper was tabled incorporating the salient features contained in

(a) The Bandaranaike - Chelvanayagam Pact
(b) The Dudley Senanayake - Chelvanayagam Pact
(c) The Manifesto of the Democratic Peoples' Alliance
(d) The Memorandum of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna
(e) The Memorandum of Mr. S. L. Gunasekera, M.P.
(f) The Memorandum of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
(g) The Concept Paper, and
(h) The "Four Point Formula" of the Tamil United Liberation Front

Your Committee in order to expand the area of devolved subjects, examine closely, the papers presented by the Ceylon Workers' Congress and the Four Point Formula of the Tamil United Liberation Front.

Your Committee agreed that the subjects in List III (Concurrent List) of the Ninth Schedule to the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution should be minimized or even that the list should be dispensed with. Mr. K. Srinivasan, M. P. for the Jaffna District subsequently presented a proposal on 11th November 1992, entitled "A Realistic Solution to the National Crisis."

A majority of members of Your Committee on 11th December 1992, agreed to adopt Item 2 in that proposal namely that "the Northern and the Eastern Provinces shall each be treated as a distinct unit of devolution."

The Members representing the Ceylon Workers' Congress and the Tamil United Liberation Front did not agree. Item 1 of the proposal states - " The Unitary nature of the Sri Lankan Constitution be converted into a federal one."

"Provided however that subject to the undertaking by the parties to the Select Committee that they shall not canvass and/or participate, the question whether Sri Lanka should have a Federal Constitution or not may be put to the determination of the people of Sri Lanka through the democratic mechanism of a referendum."

While not accepting this item in its entirety, the majority of Your Committee agreed that the devolution of functions may be on lines similar to those found in the Indian Constitution. The member of Your Committee representing the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna did not agree to Item 1 of the Srinivasan Proposal.

  Matters Agreed Upon by a Majority of the Members

On the 11th December 1992, Members of Your Committee representing the United National Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the Communist Party, Lanka Sama Samaja Party as well as the independent members, Mr. K. Srinivasan, Member for Jaffna District and Mr. Basheer Segudawood, Member for Batticaloa District, reached agreement;

(a) on the establishment of two separate units of administration for the Northern and the Eastern Provinces;
(b) to adopt a scheme of devolution on lines similar to those obtaining in the Indiana Constitution; and
(c) to devolve more subjects that are in List III (Concurrent List) or to dispense with the List.




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