Sri Lanka had definitely taken an epoch making decision to have a constitution instead of amending the present constitution for President M Sirisena believes that a new nation is born with a new constitution. Sri Lanka seems to have ushered in a new era of reconciliation by starting to have the national song sung in Tamil language too on its Independence Day on the 4th February, 2016 giving due recognition to Tamils.
Sri Lanka had started a new journey passing through its sojourn right from its Soulbury constitution (Lord Soulbury was its Governor General) which had adopted the Westminster-model of parliamentary democracy. Its parliament had the Senate and the House of Representatives with directly elected bodies. It had provided some protection to the minorities, barring the legislature from enacting provisions against a particular ethnic group. Interestingly, UK had powers to legislate for the country. Its second constitution was the first Republican Constitution (1972-78) promulgated by the then Prime Minister Srimavo Bandarnaike on May 22, 1972. It was renamed ‘Sri Lanka” and proclaimed to be a republic. However, the country was a unitary state and Buddhism occupied the foremost place. Sinhala was declared the ‘official language’ and the national State Assembly got the constitutional supremacy over all other organs.
Similarly, its third constitution, the existing one, was its second Republican Constitution (since 1979). It introduced an all-powerful executive presidency modelled on the French Gaullist system. Then, the PM J.R. Jayawardhane assumed the presidency. The supremacy of legislature gave way to the supremacy of the executive president and he became the Head of State, head of government and commander-in-chief of the army. He had the freedom to assign any ministerial portfolio. Judicial autonomy was considerably eroded with the president having a greater say in future appointments.