Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 11

On the threshold of freedom 

By K T Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore, October 20, 2001

Chapter 1

Chapter 10

The Soulbury commissioners, after completion of their mission in Ceylon, left for London on a Royal Air Force flight on April 7, 1945. Subsequently, the Secretary of State for Colonies announced the rejection of the Free Lanka Bill, which was received with disappointment by the Sinhalese leadership in the State Council.

The working committee of the Ceylon National Congress, which met on July 11, 1945, resolved to condemn the rejection with a resolution read as follows:
1. The working committee of the Ceylon National Congress condemns the action of the Secretary of State for Colonies in rejecting the Sri Lanka Bill as a violation of the fundamental right to draft our own constitution.
2. The working committee of the Ceylon National Congress authorizes the president to arrange a conference of all parties, with the view to arranging a united front of all organizations in support of Ceylon’s right to draft its own constitution.

Subsequently, the All Ceylon Congress committee, which met on August 4, 1945, was very severe with its resolution, condemning the Secretary of State for Colonies and stating that his action was an indication of the imperialist policy of imposing a slave constitution, thereby denying the right of the people to draft their own constitution and destroying political freedom in Ceylon.

While the Ceylon National Congress was busy setting up a National Freedom Fund to meet the expenses of their proposed propaganda campaign in England and other parts of the world, to promote the freedom for Ceylon, D S Senanayake was busy charting his own course of action. He made elaborate arrangements to be in London when the Soulbury Report was published.

Senanayake managed to work through Sir Oliver Goonetilake, the Defense Commissioner, to secure an invitation from Colonel Oliver Stanley, the Secretary of State for Colonies, to visit London and negotiate before the release of the Soulbury Report on the reform of the constitution. In a conciliatory gesture, Oliver Stanley readily consented to extend an invitation.

On the eve of Senanayake’s visit, a special meeting of the Board of Ministers were summoned at the request of S W R D Bandaranaike, who questioned the wisdom and propriety of Senayake’s mission to London. The board, along with Bandaranaike, were of the view that the rejection of the Free Lanka Bill had left no room for any further discussions on the subject of further constitutional advancement. Therefore, the board sternly refused to grant any special mandate to Senanayake to represent them in any negotiations with the Secretary of State. It was further decided that any decision D S Senanayke and the Secretary of State reached would not in any way bind the Board of Ministers.

After Senanayake’s departure to London against this backdrop, three candidates – Sir John Kotelawala, G C S Corea and S W R D Bandaranaike vied for the position of the acting Leader of the State Council.

“When D S Senanayake went to England on the invitation of the Secretary of State it became necessary to elect an acting Leader of the State Council. There was much canvassing and many maneuvers to push me into the office, or to keep me out at any cost. In the end, three of us had to draw lots for it. We did it three times. We all drew blanks twice. In the third round, a future Leader of the Opposition, S W R D Bandaranaike, drew the right scrap of paper. This must have given him the idea that he was destined to be D S Senanayake’s successor. But, destiny had different plans for him. The Old Man lived long. An Asian Prime Minister’s Story by Sir John Kotelawala – page 66.

While Senanayake was in London, on August 15, 1945, George E De Silva, the president of the Ceylon National Congress, sent a message to Sir Clement Atlee, the new Prime Minister of Britain. In his letter, he addressed the premier:
“Dear Friend,
As president of the Ceylon National Congress, Ceylon’s oldest political organization with a record of 26 years of service in the cause of freedom, I wish to appeal through you, to the people of Britain, to support a small nation, in her efforts to secure her birthright … Ceylon stands apart from this world of promised freedom, though she alone, of all the countries of the British Empire in the Far East, gave unanimous and unstinted support to Britain’s war efforts.

“The reward that we have received is the rejection, by the Secretary of State, of the Free Lanka [Ceylon] Bill, passed by the State Council, conferring dominion status on Ceylon. With only two elected members opposing it; whereas, elected members belonging to every community, Sinhalese, Tamils, Indians and Muslims supported it.

“The Bill was the statement by the people of Ceylon, through their elected representatives, chosen by universal suffrage, of the right of the people of Ceylon to freedom and to draft their own constitution. Can the people of England, or their representatives, deny to us that right?

“… The commission, consisting of Lord Soulbury, Sir Frederick Rees and Mr FJ Burrows, concluded their work and left the island at the end of March, 1945. It may be at their request, the Secretary of the State for the Colonies has invited the Leader of the State Council to England, for personal discussions on the question of constitutional reform. The leader is now in England.

“This is therefore an appropriate time for me to appeal to the British people. I make that appeal, with added confidence, after the victory of the Labour Party at the recent elections. I attended the Labour Party conference in England, in 1928; the Labour Party decided that Ceylon was entitled to self-government. On behalf of the people of Ceylon, I appeal through you, to the people of England to concede to us the right to freedom, and the right to draft our own constitution.”

Though Senanayake, the Leader of the State Council was invited to meet the Secretary of State for the Colonies, he was neither provided with any mandate by the Board of Ministers to negotiate on their behalf, nor had the State Council passed any special resolution authorizing him to negotiate on its behalf. During that period, Senanayake did not even represent any political party to negotiate on its behalf. By then he had already resigned his membership in the Ceylon National Congress. Therefore, it was strange that he was to meet the outgoing Secretary of State, Colonel Oliver Stanley and his successor, George Hall. Indeed, it was unfortunate that the British government chose only to negotiate with D S Senanayke.

The Soulbury commissioners submitted their report to the British government on July 11, 1945, recommending full responsible government in Ceylon’s internal affairs. The recommendations embodied in report can be seen in the annex at the end of this chapter.

By the time the Conservative Party had been swept out of power, on August 9; Senanayake met George H Hall, the new Secretary of State for the Colonies, who gave him a copy of the Soulbury Report. Senanayake met Hall again twice, on August 16 and September 4. The British cabinet, which met on September 3, was not accommodating of the request by Senanayake to grant dominion status to Ceylon.

Meantime, minority leaders were apprehensive over Senanayake’s visit to London and they requested that the Secretary of the State for Colonies receive a delegation of minority leaders. Oliver Stanley decided not to provide any passage facilities to any minority groups from Ceylon. Senanayake also made it known that he was not prepared to sit at the same table with G G Ponnamplam. As a compromise, the Secretary of State decided to receive the delegation separately. George Hall and his parliamentary Under Secretary, Arthur Creech Jones (in 1947, he succeeded George Hall as Secretary of State for Colonies) met G G Ponnampalam. The meeting was described as a courtesy affair and no constitutional proposals were discussed.

On September 11 the British cabinet decided that it would accept the Soulbury Commission Report as the basis on which the island’s constitution would be framed. Also, the cabinet strongly opposed the immediate grant of dominion status to Ceylon. George Hall conveyed the cabinet’s decision to Senanayake, and on September 17 he returned to Ceylon disappointed.

The report of the Soulbury Commission recommended the following proposals:

  • Full responsible government in internal affairs.
  • The parliament of Ceylon to consist of the King, the Senate and the House Representatives.
  • The Governor General in Ceylon would represent the King.
  • The Governor General shall reserve for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure any Bill relating to defense or external affairs, and any Bill of an extraordinary nature and importance and any Bill the provisions of which in the opinion of the Governor General were likely to involve oppression or serious injustice to any community.
  • An Act of Parliament shall be expressly enacted by the King, with the advice and consent of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • The Parliament of Ceylon shall not make any law rendering persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which other communities or religions were not liable or confer upon any community or religion any privileges or advantages which were not conferred upon persons of other communities or religion. Nor shall the Parliament of Ceylon make any law to prohibit or restrict the free exercise of any religion or alter the constitution of any religious body, except at the request of the governing authority of that religious body. (For full details, refer to the annex at the end of this chapter.)Senanayake, during his visit to London, managed to extract an important concession relating to the issue of citizenship, which was to fall within the ambit of the government elected under the new constitution. Therefore, the Soulbury Report did not touch on the vexed question of the Indian franchise and citizenship. The British purposely allowed this issue to be handled by their crony – D S Senanayake.On October 12, George Hall explained to the cabinet’s Colonial Affairs Committee that there was no possibility of Ceylon obtaining self-rule before India and Burma. A revision of the Ceylon constitution would be considered only after six years from the adoption of the Soulbury constitution. This was how it was stated in the original draft of the British government’s White Paper. Subsequently, it dawned on George Hall that Senanayake’s support was required to have the Soulbury proposals approved in the State Council. Therefore, he came forward to make a concession regarding “the consideration of dominion status after six years”.

    Also, at the intervention of Governor Sir Henry Monck-Mason-Moore, the British cabinet in its final version of the White Paper deleted the portion dealing with the “revision after six years”. Finally, the White Paper stated, in its diluted version, that His Majesty’s government was in sympathy with the desire of the people of Ceylon to advance towards dominion status and was anxious to cooperate with them to this end. Then the British government decided to make public the Soulbury Commission Report.

    Once it became public, “G G Ponnampalam sent a cable to the Secretary of State for the Colonies suggesting that if the commission’s proposals were not revised, the Tamils would be forced to press for a federal constitution”. The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation by V Navaratnam – page 37. Ponnampalam followed this up with a visit to London.

    The White Paper embodying the decisions of the British Government was issued on October 31, 1945. In England, Ponnampalam met the Colonial Secretary and many Members of Parliament and presented the minority’s views. Lord Croft, a member of the House of Lords and Tom Driberg, a member of the House of Commons. were persuaded to raise questions in the respective houses, but they ended up without bringing about the desired effects.

    The Board of Ministers, meanwhile, decided to accept the White Paper and they authorized D S Senanayake to move a motion in the State Council. On November 8 Seananayake moved in the State Council:
    “The House express disappointment that His Majesty’s government has deferred the admission of Ceylon to full dominion status, but in view of the assurance contained in the White Paper of October 31, 1945, that His Majesty’s government will cooperate with the people of Ceylon so that such status may be attained by this country in a comparatively short time, this House resolves that the constitution offered in the said White Paper be accepted during the interim period.”

    While the motion was being debated, on the side, the working committee of the Ceylon National Congress met on November 5 and resolved that “The working committee condemns the declaration of H M Government as it does not concede to us the right to freedom, but it authorizes the Congress members in the State Council to vote for the leader’s motion because the implementation of a constitution based on the White Paper on 31.10.45 will give us a more effective instrument for carrying on our struggle for freedom.”

    On November 4, the Tamil Congress held a special session, which was well attended. The session resolved to condemn the Soulbury Commission Report and the White Papera and resolved that the Tamil councilors of the State Council vote against the White Paper.

    V Navaratnam was one of the Tamil leaders who was personally associated with events. He writes, “An interesting account of a revealing episode concerning this voting was going the rounds in political circles at that time. Some prominent Tamils like S J V Chelvanayakam, Dr E M V Naganathan, Handy Perinpanayagam and others made an eleventh hour effort to persuade the Tamil members of the State Council to vote against the White Paper. Natesapillai [S Natesan] promised them that he would vote against [the motion]. D S Senanayake held a reception at his official residence on the eve of the voting. While he was seated in the lawn surrounded by a group of distinguished visitors, he noticed the turbaned head of the occupant of a car that drove up the driveway. He had probably known Natesapillai had been persuaded to vote against the White Paper. Natesapillai alighted from his car and was walking up to the group when Senanayake turned to his neighbor and exclaimed in a half whisper, but loud enough to reach the ear of the approaching gentleman, ‘Ah, here comes our future minister.’ The die was cast. The following day, Natesapillai voted in favor of the White Paper.” The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation by V Navaratnam – pages 39-40.

    While the debate over the White Paper was on, “The Singhalese leaders in the State Council mustered all their powers of persuasion to urge the acceptance of the constitutional proposals. Speaker after speaker, D S Senanayake, S W R D Bandaranaike, A F Molamure [who later became the first Speaker of the House of Representatives], George E De Silva, and many others, made fervent appeals for cooperation with the Singhalese to work out the new constitution. They appealed, pleaded and cajoled. Almost parrot-like they all begged: ‘Please trust us and give us a chance to prove that we are worthy of your trust.’ – ‘Please have faith in us and see whether we are worthy descendants of the mighty Singhalese race or not.’ – ‘Please let us work the constitution and see whether we cannot overcome its shortcomings.’ – ‘Please let us give the constitution a trial, and we will prove to you that your fears are unfounded.’ D S Senanayake even cited history to say that the Tamil kings had ruled the Singhalese and Singhalese kings had ruled the Tamils, but the people had always lived in amity.” The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation by V Navaratnam – pages 38-39

    When introducing the motion for the acceptance of the White Paper, D S Seananayake said. “Before I explain why I recommend that the new proposals be accepted, I must pay tribute to the Donoughmore Commission … We must not forget that it was the Donoughmore Constitution which first gave us a measure of responsibility, which enabled us to show that we were capable of self-government, and which gave us the power to tackle some of the social and economic problems of the country.”

    Seananayake in his address further said, “The accusation of Sinhala domination has thus shown to be false. I hope that verdict will be accepted by all sections of the community and that we can now go forward with the trust and mutual confidence upon which the welfare of the Island depends. I do not normally speak as a Sinhalese, and I do not think that the leader of the council ought to think of himself as a Sinhalese representative; but for once, I should like to speak as a Sinhalese and to assert with all the force at my command that the interests of one community are the interests of all. We are one of another, whatever our race or creed. These accusations of rabid communalism were no doubt inevitable, but they hurt, because they seemed to us to be manifestly untrue. The recommendations of the Soulbury Commission show that in the opinion of three eminent and distinguished persons from outside, they were untrue. What the White Paper really means is that if the new constitution works well and it proves unnecessary to use the restrictive powers, full equality of status would be accorded to us.” Senanayake urged Tamils and other minority communities to accept the constitution and assured them:

    “Do you want to be governed from London or do you want, as Ceylonese, to help govern Ceylon? … On behalf of the Congress and on my own behalf, I give the minority communities the sincere assurance that no harm need you fear at our hands in a free Lanka.” Sri Lanka – The National Question and the Tamil Liberation Struggle by Satchi Ponnampalam – page 65.

    In conclusion, Senanayake queries, “The question before the House is whether it wants the White Paper with its promise of dominion status in a comparatively short space of time, or the Donoughmore Constitution and another long period of agitation?”

    S W R D Bandaranaike, the Minister of Local Administration, seconded the motion. Excerpts of his address, “When the leader of the House did me the honor of asking me whether I would be in a position to second the motion he was moving, I was placed in a position, in that position, by the decision of the party to which I belong – the Sinhala Maha Sabha – I told the Hon leader that, whilst seconding the motion, I would like to adopt a procedure which is perhaps not quite usual in dealing with motions of this importance. I wished to second the motion formally and make the observations which I desired to make of the motion at the later stage of the debate.

    “The problem that faces all dependent countries, particularly a country like Ceylon, in their painful and laborious struggle towards freedom, are these. In our country, there is the internal problem of settling our own differences and winning each other’s confidence and cooperation, amongst what I might call, the Ceylonese communities of the country, amongst various section of the Ceylonese community. There is the external problem, which in Ceylon is two-fold. The external problem is two-fold in the sense: one aspect of it concerns the struggle against the ruling power of this country in order to obtain a greater measure of freedom. On the other hand, there is a struggle which is no less a struggle against another deciding element, and that is with regard to the Indian question.

    “The 50-50 demand had been put forward, and it had many adherents amongst many communities in this country, and at a time when it was claimed that at the request of leaders of that movement, a commission was being sent out, an impartial commission, to this country, to inquire into the question. [The Soulbury commissioners’ decision on the 50-50 proposal is given as an annex in Chapter 12.] I do not blame my hon friends of the other communities, who would have been chary or at least not sufficiently long-sighted to have realized the need of coming to an agreement amongst ourselves. For pinning their faith upon this commission if they really bona fide felt their case was a strong case, and I have no doubt that some of them or most of them did feel so. That was a situation which arose which could not be settled.

    “Well, I feel very sorry for my hon friends. I am not here to sneer or jeer at any section or any party with whose views I may not agree; nor am I prepared to say anything to hurt the feelings of my hon friends of the 50-50 school of thought at a time when they lie prostrate in the dust. No, Sir. But I will say this, that as long as there are people amongst ourselves to whom it matters much more in scoring something off each other than in obtaining a real measure of freedom for the country generally, this sort of difficulty is bound to arise. Is that not so?

    “Is that not what really happened? When my hon friend, the member for Point Pedro [Mr G G Ponnampalam] – it is a matter of great personal regret to me that he is not present in the house when this debate is taking place – claimed here that they stood for Poorna Swraj – I believe that is what they called it – when the hon member for Mannar [Mr J Tyagraja] and others who were champions of the 50-50 school of thought got up and said that they wanted independence even more than dominion status, what did they do, while saying that? They put forward a constitution that was even less democratic, less progressive than any constitution that was contemplated by the declaration of 1943 or by the Soulbury Commission or by the White Paper of the British government! What was the justification for that act? I say, none; except the hope that by doing so they might perhaps have enlisted the support of powerful Europeans interests to back the 50-50 demand.

    “What about the Indian question? We have made more than one effort to solve that. We went to Delhi in 1940; subsequent to that, although I must say, I personally did not approve it, my hon friend the leader made a very desperate effort to reach some solution in what is known as the Bajpai-Senanayake Pact. Those things have not materialized. There is no solution at the moment.

    “I do not want to say anything more than that at this stage. – We must proceed to achieve that freedom with a firm determination to fulfill the conditions which is required for its achievement within as short a period as possible.” “Towards a new era – selected speeches of S W R D Bandaranaike, made in the legislature of Ceylon – pages 118 to 132.

    At the conclusion of the debate, the speaker moved that the council resolve that the constitution offered by the White Paper be accepted. The State Council overwhelmingly voted for the motion, with 51 votes in favor and three against it. Those who voted against the motion were W W Dhanayake, the Sinhalese and the member representing the bible constituency in the south, and two Indian Tamils, K R Natesa Iyer and I X Pereira, while S Vaitilingham, another Indian Tamil, was absent. Also, G G Ponnampalam and S Dharmaratnam were away from the island, but Subbiah Natesan, Sir Arunachalam Mahadeva and Tiyagarajah,were the noteworthy Jaffna Tamil members along with J G Rajakulendran who represented the Tamils of the Indian origin, and who voted in favor of adoption of the motion.

    Sir John Kotelawala in his An Asian Prime Minister’s Story, wrote, “The Tamil Congress leader was away from Ceylon at the time; but his wife was present in the State Council gallery to frown on what looked like a betrayal of the 50-50 cause by the three Tamil councilors.” – Page 66.

    Sir Ivor Jennings, the constitutional advisor to D S Senanayake, later wrote, “The motion was thus carried by 94.4 percent of those present and voting or 89.5 percent of the whole council less the Speaker; but it was in fact supported by 91.2 percent of the whole council less the Speaker. His Majesty’s government had asked in the declaration of 1943 for a 75 percent vote of the whole council less the speaker, but had waived this requirement by the White Paper.” – Constitution of Ceylon, page 12.

    On May 15, 1946, the King issued the Ceylon Order-in-Council promulgating the constitution on the basis set out in the White Paper. The preamble expressed optimism about the grant of dominion status in the near future. “Legislation such as the Statute of Westminster has been the recognition of constitutional advances already achieved rather than the instrument by which they were secured. It is therefore the hope of His Majesty’s government that the new constitution will be accepted by the people of Ceylon with a determination so to work it that in a comparatively short time such dominion status will be evolved. The actual length of time occupied by this evolutionary process must depend upon the experience gained under the new constitution by the people of Ceylon.”

    The new Order-in-Council ushered in a unitary form of government with a centralized form of administration, where the minorities would be at the mercy of the majority community. The country had already experienced the Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers, after the State Council elections in 1936. Even the Soulbury commissioners were harsh on the formation of the Pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers. In their report “Ceylon – Report on Constitutional Reform,” Chapter IV – The Donughmore constitution: From the 1936 election to the 1943 election:
    “57. The so-called Pan-Sinhalese Ministry has been much discussed ever since. We need not inquire what various reasons had led to the majority community to take the steps necessary to exclude all representatives of the minorities from the Board of Ministers … That what the majority had now done had always been theoretically possible must have been common knowledge; but whether it was wise to do it extremely doubtful. The point needed no practical proof. To show that members of the minorities could be excluded from the chairmanship of committees, and therefore from the Board of Ministers, was merely to make clear to them that they had to seek some other means of safeguarding their position. Nor could the demonstration be limited to that. The action of the majority could be represented as indicating a policy on their part of using their power to the detriment of the minorities. To provide minorities with this argument showed singular lack of statesmanship.

    “58. … Moreover, as a result of the creation of the Pan-Sinhalese Ministry, the minorities had grown still more alarmed and it had become more difficult than ever to reach a measure of agreement on constitutional reform in the State Council and in the country as a whole.”

    After analyzing the situation, one still finds it mystifying to observe that the Soulbury commissioners failed to provide a form of government where the minority communities, too, could participate in the day-to-day administration of the country they rightly belonged to, and hold on to power and position, and also their individuality, dignity and honor. A unitary form of government with a centralized administration was not an answer to the plural society of Ceylon. Though it was anticipated that, according to the new constitution, political parties were to play a leading role.

    However, when the constitutional commission was examining future constitutional advancement, there were already established political parties and political organizations, according to the communal backdrop of the country. The Sinhala Maha Sabah of S W R D Bandaranaike, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress of G G Ponnampalam, the Kandyan National Assembly for the Sinhalese of the former Kandyan region, the Ceylon Indian Congress for the Tamils of the Indian origin, the Burgher Political Association of Ceylon, the Ceylon Moors Association for Moors in the country, the Ceylon Muslim League for Muslims and the All Ceylon Muslim Political Conference, also for Muslims, led by T B Jayah and Sir Mohamed Macan Markar.

    Against this backdrop, it is intriguing that the commissioners failed to recommend a form of government where all the communities could participate in the day-to-day legislative and executive functions of the government. On the contrary, the unitary form of government only strengthened the hand of the majority community.

    The cry for a separate state for Muslims in India was being heard at the time when the commissioners were examining the issue of constitutional advancement in Ceylon. They could have recommended a separate state to the Tamils and other minorities. This was one possibility. They could have recommended two autonomous governing units with a central government, on federal lines. Why did they not do so? If the British had provided an alternative to the unitary form of centralized government, the country would have been spared much death and misery, bloodshed and tears.

    In the case where the commissioners were bent on justifying the constitutional draft put forward by the Board of Ministers of the State Council led by D S Senanayake, they could have either included a few proposals stating that in the case where a prime minister was from the majority community, the deputy shall be from the minority community. The cabinet should comprise ministers from all the communities on the island; the number could be at least based on population criteria. This would have led to the formation of political parties with a national outlook and provided a measure to mend the communal divide in the country. It was unfortunate that the Soulbury commissioners failed to look at the country’s inherent political problems in the right perspective. Their approach was confined to justifying the draft constitution put forward by D S Senanayake and in preparing justifications for dismissing proposals put forward by the leaders of the minority communities. For this act, subsequently, Lord Soulbury was rewarded with the position of Governor General after the independence of Ceylon, as a measure of gratitude for his loyalty towards D S Seananayake.

    The new Order-in-Council did not deal with the Indian franchise. Earlier, the Soulbury Commission recommended that the franchise be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Ceylon parliament, and further advised that no change be made for the first election. Accordingly, the Ceylon (Electoral Register) (Special Provisions) Order-in-Council, 1946 merely authorized changes in dates, so that new registers might be compiled. Subsequently, the Ceylon (Parliamentary Elections) Order-in-Council, 1946 was issued.

    According to clause 11 of the newly-enacted Ceylon (Constitution) Order in Council, 1946, “The House of Representative shall consists of (a) 95 members elected by the electors of the electoral districts specified in the Proclamation under section 43 of this Order published in Gazette No. 9,595 of August 30, 1946, and
    (b) Four members elected for the Indian and Pakistani electoral district in accordance with the law for the time being in force for the election of such members.

    In addition to the members specified in the subsection (1) of this section, there shall be six members appointed by the Governor-General after every general election to represent any important interest on the island, which in his opinion is not represented or is inadequately represented.

    Also, the Senate was to be a permanent body unaffected by the dissolution of parliament, but one-third of the senators would resign every second year. The reserved power of the legislation and the power to reserve the bills for the Royal Assents will be the only limitations on complete self-government to Ceylon.

    To carve out electorates to elect 95 members, the Order-in-Council insisted on a Delimitation of Electoral Districts, according to Section 40.
    Section 40. (1) Within one year after the completion of every general census of the island following the general census of 1946, the Governor-General shall establish a Delimitation Commission.
    (2) Every Delimitation Commission established under this section shall consist of three persons appointed by the Governor-General who shall appoint one of such persons to be the Chairman.

    The First delimitation Commission consisted of L M D de Silva (Chairman) N Nadarajah and H E Janz. Their report was said to be unanimous, received legal effect by proclamation. (Report of the First Delimitation Commission is available as Sessional Paper XIII of 1946.) Electorates were demarcated for every 75,000 inhabitants and every 1,000 square miles of territory. The calculation of seats for the first parliament was made on the basis of the census of 1931 and not that of 1946. It was said that to provide extra representation for the Tamils in Jaffna, the Jaffna Lagoon was considered part of the land area. The Commission decided for the creation of 85 single-member constituencies, three constituencies to elect two members and one to return three members.

    The State Council was dissolved, forever, on June 4, 1947 and the general elections for the House of Representatives (Parliament) was scheduled for August 23 and continued until September 20, 1947.

    Meanwhile, D S Senanayake began to make moves to organize a political party having the forthcoming general elections to the parliament in mind. Eventually in April 1946, a political party named United National Party (UNP) was formed by drawing membership from the members of the State Council and from various political organizations, such as Ceylon National Congress except the members of the Communist Party, the Sinhala Maha Sabah, the All Ceylon Muslim League and from the Ceylon Moors Association. Sir Arunachalam Mahadeva and Subbayah Natesan, the two Tamil State Councilors joined the UNP. Except for the Ceylon National Congress, other political organizations were not formally dissolved, and whose members participated in the formation of the new political party.

    The first meeting to form the UNP took place on June 4, 1946, in the State Council building, with D S Senanayake in the chair. At this meeting, the draft constitution of the party was adopted. Later, the Executive Committee meeting took place on September 6, 1946, where a formal resolution was moved for the formation of “a political party, called United National Party, be formed”, was moved by S Natesan and seconded by T B Jayah. At the meeting following office bearers were elected:

    D S Senanayake – President; S W R D Bandaranaike, Sir John Kotelawala, George E. de Silva, T B Jayah and Sir Arunachalam Mahadeva – Vice Presidents; H W Amarasuriya – General Secretary; J R Jayewardene and Sir Razik Fareed – Joint Treasurers.

    “The United National Party was formed in 1947 by a large group of members of the State Council, who realized that Cabinet government required a party organization … It did not get much support from the Jaffna Tamils, who for the most, supported Tamil Congress, a communal organization which maintained opposition, which it had developed to the Ministers of the Donoughmore Constitution.” Ceylon Constitution by Sir Ivor Jennings – pages 125-126.

    S W R D Bandaranaike, in one of his pamphlets gave correctly the mentality of the political leadership, “The position of the country before the formation of the United National Party [UNP] was that, there were a number of parties, which if they all fought each other, would probably not have succeeded in winning [in case of any one party] more than 10 to 15 seats … the obvious things to do was to form a party before the elections, by way of close-knit coalition, of a number of existing parties and groups that were reasonably agreed on a common policy and program.”

    The period 1946-47 witnessed lot of trade union activity in the country. Tamils of the Indian origin, who are workers in the plantation sector and almost all the Indian business houses and shops staged hartal (work stoppages) on February 12, 1946, against the Soulbury Commission Report and the proposed new constitution, which failed to provide any assurance to the Indian community.

    The Ceylon Indian Congress played a lead role in the Kanavesmere estate episode, located in Bulathkohupitya. In this incident, the country witnessed the emergence of Savumiamoorthy Thondaman, the future leader of the Tamil plantation workers, playing an important role. It all happened when the government decided to divide the Knavesmere estate into small plots and allotments distributed to the Sinhalese. D S Senanayke, the minister of Agriculture and Lands, denied the Indian Tamils the area of such allotments.

    By that time, 363 Indian Tamil families employed in the estate had already cleared 400 acres of forestland adjoining the estate and had started cultivation. The Tamil workers were arrested and charged before a special court in Kegalle. Despite the argument that the squatters were in possession of the land for well over five years and cultivating it, the magistrate sentenced the Tamil squatters to three months imprisonment. Thondaman called for a strike, which lasted for 21 days in the Hatton, Ratnapura, Yatiyantota and Kegalle districts. After a motion for pardon by one worker, the matter was taken up in the Privy Council in England, where it was held that a squatter occupying a land for a long period could not be evicted on charges of trespass.

    The period was further marred with trade union activities by the Marxist politicians. The strikers were said to be politically oriented. At that time, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) continued to remain an underground organization and the top leaders were considered fugitives. After the end of the World War II, restraints imposed on the LSSP under defense regulations were lifted. Once all the leaders returned to Ceylon, a serious controversy arose in the party, yet again on ideological grounds, between the supporters of the Bolshevik Lenninst ideology and the leaders who supported the ideology of the Fourth International. The tussle led to the emergence of the Bolshevik Leninist Party (BLP) under the leadership of Dr Colvin R de Silva.

    Political and trade union activities brought about a resurgence and mass support in favor of the left political parties, when the government demobilized more than 1,500 Ceylonese in the armed forces at the end of the war. Also, more than 100,000 civilian workers employed by the military contractors lost their jobs. The country also faced an economic slump due to the drop in the prices of its export commodities, especially those of tea and rubber. All these factors added to the increase in trade union activities by the leftist political parties.

    In October 1946, the Ceylon Bank Clerks Union went on strike. On October 17, nearly 10,000 workers belonging to the essential services, such as harbor, railways and electricity, went on strike. The government treated the strike seriously, as an emergency. The ministers found it difficult to cope up with the daily deteriorating situation of law and order and they requested Sir Henry Monck-Mason, the governor, to assume his emergency powers to curb the strike activities and restore order.

    It became tenser when the Jaffna train was derailed near Anuradhapura, which caused the death of four men and seriously injuried another 12. The military and police forces were deployed and put on alert. Armed military personnel began to guard Colombo city. Daily paid workers and clerks in the government service came out on strike on May 23, 1947. The military was called on June 5 and police opened fire on a crowd of strikers near Kolonnawa on the outskirt of Colombo.

    The strike was considered by the government as a political demonstration by the leftist forces and not in any way related to trade disputes. One of the demands of the strikers was the rejection of the new constitution. The Board of Ministers considered the general strike a serious bid for power by the Marxist leaders.

    “Alarmists imagined that a revolution was about to break out just when Ceylon was on the eve of achieving her freedom by peaceful means.” – An Asian Prime Minister’s Story – Sir John Kotelawala, page 69.

    Earlier in February 1947, British government announced that it had decided to grant independence to India and to Burma. This cleared the way for Ceylon to push for its independence.

    Meantime, D S Senanayake decided to make another attempt regarding dominion status, on the terms he proposed in August 1945. In February 1947 he dispatched a letter to the Secretary of States for Colonies, through the governor. The governor supported Senanayake’s request.

    Thereafter, D S Senanayake contacted Sir Oliver Goonetilake, who was about to leave for Britain on leave and entrusted him with the task of finalizing, on his behalf, the transaction to be done with the Colonial Secretary.

    By the time Sir Oliver Goonatileke reached England and conducted negotiations, several officers in the Colonial office in London were prepared to give a chance to Ceylon and favored an early announcement of the decision to grant dominion status, which meant independence. (The Imperial Conference of 1926 provided the first official definition of dominion status as “an independent association with allegiance to the Crown with complete control of internal and external affairs”.)

    The new Secretary of States for Colonies, Arthur Creech-Jones, who succeeded George Hall, was very much receptive to the request for dominion status for Ceylon. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke told the Colonial Secretary that the whole world would consider Britain to be an ungrateful country if it failed to grant independence to Ceylon, while granting it to India and Burma, countries that practiced anti-British policy during the war.

    He also argued that if Britain did not grant independence at this particular time in a manner that would help D S Senanayake, a close friend of Britain, it would inevitably have to transact with the recalcitrant Sama Samaja Party leaders on a different level, facing a more severe uncompromising stand. Contemporary records show that the Colonial Secretary accepted Goonetilleke’s reasoning.

    Britain realized that the delay in granting dominion status would lead to undermining Senanayake’s position by the anti-imperialist Marxist elements. After taking all these matters into serious consideration, on June 18, 1947, the British government made an announcement in the House of Commons:

    “In 1945, His Majesty’s government affirmed their willingness to cooperate with the people of Ceylon in their advance to dominion status, and expressed the hope that within a comparatively short space of time, such a status will be evolved. His Majesty’s government recognizes that the people of Ceylon are anxious to see this aim realized quickly as possible, and are eager to know how soon they may expect this to come about.

    “Elections are now being arranged and a new parliament will assemble in October. Clearly no constitutional change can take place before a new government is in office and fully functioning. Agreements will have to be negotiated on a number of subjects. When such agreements have been concluded on terms satisfactory to His Majesty’s government and the Ceylon government, immediate steps will be taken to amend the constitution so as to confer fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations. To avoid delay in opening negotiations with the future Ceylon government, His Majesty’s government has directed that preparatory works should be put in hand for drawing up the heads of the necessary agreements.”

    The Governor also made the same announcement in the State Council, that Ceylon would receive full responsible status within the British Commonwealth. In July 1947, the governor visited England for preliminary discussions and on his return he announced that he had had discussions regarding agreements related to defense and external affairs and it had been agreed for submission in due course.

    As the trade union activities were on and off, political parties began to prepare for the general elections, scheduled for September 1947. Boosted by the announcement of dominion status very soon, the United National Party leaders were strongly opposed to the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and to the Marxist Parties. D S Senanayake denounced the Tamil Congress as a communal party and declared that he would not form any kind of coalition with members elected from the Tamil Congress.

    The Ceylon Indian Congress, which opposed the new constitution, sought an assurance that the franchise would be amended according to their views, of which Senanayake was not prepared. The LSSP, BLP and the Communist Party formed the main opposition to the UNP. The Marxist parties received support from Tamil voters of the Indian origin.

    The last day for filing the nominations for the first parliamentary general elections was July 26, 1947, where 3,048,145 voters from 89 constituencies would elect 95 members to parliament. The electoral district of Puttalam returned uncontested H S Ismail, from the UNP. A total of 360 candidates contested, out of which 181 filed nominations as independent candidates and contested in the remaining 88 electorates.

    The UNP contested in 89 electorates, with nearly 98 candidates. In several electorates there was more than one official UNP candidate, which pitted them against each other. The Communist Party contested in 13 constituencies; unfortunately Dr S A Wickremasinghe was unable to contest as he had earlier been disqualified. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party contested in 28 electorates, while the BLP, led by Dr Colvin R de Silva, contested in 10 constituencies.

    The Ceylon Indian Congress fielded candidates in eight of the up-country electorates, while the All Ceylon Tamil Congress fielded nine candidates, out of which eight were nominated to the seats in the Northern province and one to a constituency in the Eastern province.

    For the first and last time in his political career, D S Senanayake (UNP) faced opposition in an election, when the Bolshevik Leninist Party stalwart Edmund Samarakody contested his Mirigama constituency. Dudley Senanayake (UNP), the son of D S Senanayke, contested the Dedigama electorate. Other stalwarts were Sir John Kotelawala (UNP), Dodangaslanda; S W R D Bandaranaike (UNP), Atanagala’ W W Dahanayake (BLP), Galle; J R Jayewardene (UNP). Kelaniya; Dr Colvin R de Silva (BLP), Wellawatte-Galkisa; T B Jaya (UNP), Colombo Central; Peter Keuneman (CP) Colombo Central and Dr N M Perera (LSSP), Ruwanwella.

    In the Tamil areas, G G Ponnampalam, the leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, contested from the Jaffna constituency and was pitched against his archrival Sir Arnuchalam Mahadeva, one of the vice presidents of the United National Party. The emerging future Tamil leader, a complete newcomer to politics, S J V Chelvanayakam, a Christian, also a barrister, contested on the Tamil Congress ticket at Kankesanthurai against Subbiayah Natesan, who was one of the UNP leaders. Sir Vaitilingham Duraiswamy, who was the speaker of the State Council (March 17, 1936 to July 4, 1947), faced a three-cornered contest at his Kayts electorate. C Suntharalingham, who came to Ceylon from Balliol College, Oxford to take up appointment as professor of mathematics at the Ceylon University College, also the advisor to Senanayake, contested Vavuniya, as an independent candidate and C Sittampalam an independent candidate, contested Jaganathan Tyagarajah at Mannar. The emerging leader of the Tamils of the Indian origin, S Thondaman contested the Nuwera Eliya seat on the Ceylon Indian Congress ticket.

    Polling was spread over the period August 23 to September 20, 1947.

    Summary of recommendations

    The franchise (Chapter X) 
    1. Universal suffrage on the present basis shall be retained.

    Immigration (Chapter XI) 
    2. Any Bill relating solely to the prohibition or restriction of immigration into Ceylon shall not be regarded as coming within the category of Bills which the Governor-General is instructed to reserve for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure; provided that the Governor-General may reserve any such Bill if in his opinion its provision regarding the right of re-entry of persons normally resident in the Island at the date of the passing of the Bill by the Legislature are unfair or unreasonable.

    3. Any Bill relating solely to the franchise shall not be regarded as coming within the category of Bills, which the Governor- General is instructed to reserve for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure.

    4. The Parliament of Ceylon shall not make any law rendering persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions are not made liable, or confer upon persons of any community or religion any privileges or advantages which are not conferred on persons of other communities or religions.

    5. Any Bills, any of the provisions of which have evoked serious opposition by any racial or religious community and which, in the opinion of the Governor-General is likely to involve oppression or serious injustice to any such community, must be reserved by the Governor-General for His Majesty’s assent.

    Representation (Chapter XII) 
    6. A Delimitation Commission shall be appointed by the Governor-General consisting of three persons, one of whom shall be Chairman; and in making these appointments the Governor-General shall act in his discretion, avoiding as far as possible the selection of persons connected with politics.

    7. The Delimitation Commission so appointed shall divide each Province of the Island into a number of electoral districts, ascertained as provided in Article 13(2) and (3) of S P XIV but so that, wherever it shall appear to the Commission that there is a substantial concentration in any area of a Province of persons united by a community of interest, whether racial, religious or otherwise but differing in one or more of these respects from the majority of the inhabitants of that area, the commission shall be at liberty to modify the factor of numerical equality of persons in that area and make such division of the Province into electoral districts as may be necessary to render possible the representation of that interest.

    8. The Commission shall consider the creation of multi-member constituencies in appropriate areas.

    9. Within one year after the completion of every census, the Governor-General shall appoint a Delimitation Commission composed as aforesaid but (except in the case of the Commission to be appointed after the census of 1946) steps shall be taken before such appointment to review the working of the scheme of representation, which we recommend.

    The legislature (Chapter XIV) 
    10. There shall be a Second Chamber consisting of thirty members, which shall be called the Senate. Its members shall be known as Senators.

    11. Fifteen of the seats of the Senate shall be filled by persons elected by members of the First Chamber in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote; and fifteen shall be filled by persons chosen by the Governor-General in his discretion.

    12. The minimum age for entry to the Senate shall be 35, and persons chosen by the Governor-General shall either have rendered distinguished public service or be such persons eminent in education, law, medicine, science, engineering, banking, commerce, industry or agriculture as the Governor-General, after consultation with the representatives of the appropriate profession or occupation, may in his discretion choose.

    13. The Disqualifications for membership of the Senate shall be the same as those for membership of the First Chamber.

    14. The Senate shall choose one of its members to be President, who shall take precedence as near as may be in accordance with the usages of the United Kingdom. During any absence of the President, the Senate shall choose one of its members to perform his duties.

    15. Not less than two Ministers shall be members of the Senate. If Parliamentary Secretaries are appointed, not more than two shall be members of the Senate.

    16. The Senate shall have no power to reject or amend or delay beyond one month a Finance Bill; and if a Bill other than a Finance Bill is passed by the First Chamber in two successive sessions and is rejected by the Senate in each of those sessions, the Bill shall, on its second rejection, be deemed to have been passed by both Chambers.

    17. A Finance Bill shall be defined in accordance with precedents already existing in the British Commonwealth, and the speaker of the First Chamber shall, after consultation with the Attorney General, be empowered to certify whether a Bill is in his opinion a Finance Bill.

    18. There shall be power to originate Bills other than Finance Bills in the Senate.

    19. The normal term of office of a Senator shall be nine years, but five elected and five nominated Senators (ie, one-third of the total membership of the Senate) shall retire every three years and be eligible for re-election or re-nomination. The identity of the members called upon to retire at the end of the third and sixth year after the date of formation of the Senate under the new Constitution shall be determined by lot. Those persons who are elected or nominated after the end of third or sixth year will hold office for nine years and a draw by lot will not be required after the sixth year. A person elected or nominated to fill a casual vacancy occurring at any time will hold office for the remainder of the term of office of the person he replaces.

    The first chamber (Chapter XV) 
    20. There shall be a First Chamber consisting of 101 members; 95 of those members shall be elected and 6 nominated by the Governor-General.

    21. The First Chamber shall be known as the House of Representatives and its members shall be known as Members of Parliament.

    22. (a) For the purpose of qualifying for membership of the First Chamber, ability to speak, read and write English shall no longer be required. (b) Stricter rules shall be applied in the matter of governmental contracts, etc. in which Members of Parliament are interested.
    (c) Article 9 (1) (f) of the Ceylon (State Council) Order in Council, 1931, shall be retained, subject to the modifications indicated in para. 318.
    (d) In the case of a free pardon, the period of disqualification of a Member or Parliament shall cease from the date of the granting of that pardon.
    (e) In addition to the provisions for disqualification contained in the Ceylon (State Council) Order in Council, 1931, provision shall be made for the disqualification of a Member of Parliament for accepting a bribe or gratification offered with a view to influencing his judgment as a Member of Parliament, provided that any allowance or payment made to a Member of Parliament by any Trade Union or other organization solely for his maintenance shall not be deemed to be a bribe or gratification within the terms of this provision.
    (f) Article 9 (a) of the Ceylon (State Council) Order in Council, 1931, shall be retained.

    23. Every House of Representatives, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting.

    Both chambers
    24. A Member of either Chamber shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a member of the other Chamber.

    Sessions of Parliament 
    25. The rules and conventions obtaining in the United Kingdom as to the frequency with which Parliament is summoned, and the length of sessions shall be followed in Ceylon, and provision shall accordingly be made in the Constitution.

    26. The Parliament of Ceylon shall consist of the King, the Senate and the House of Representatives of Ceylon: and an Act of Parliament shall be expressed to be enacted by the King by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and the House of Representatives of Ceylon.

    The executives (Chapter XVI) 
    27. The Executive Committees and the three Officers of State (the Chief Secretary, Legal Secretary and Financial Secretary) shall be abolished.

    28. In place of the present Board, there shall be a Cabinet Ministers responsible to the Legislature, of whom one appointed by the Governor-General shall be Prime Minister. The Ministers other than the Prime Minister shall be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

    29. The functions to be assigned to each Minister shall be determined by the Prime Minister, subject to recommendation 42 below.

    30. The Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, appoint Parliamentary Secretaries, but the number so appointed shall not exceed the number of Ministers.

    31. A Permanent secretary to each Ministry shall be appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Public Services Commission.

    The governor-general (Chapter XVII)
    32. The classes of Bills which the Governor-General is instructed to reserve for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure shall be as follows:
    i. Any Bill relating to Defense.
    ii. Any Bill relating to External Affairs, provided that Bills of the following character shall not be regarded as coming within this category:
    (a) Any Bill relating to and conforming to any trade agreement concluded with the approval of His Majesty’s Government by Ceylon with other parts of the Commonwealth.
    (b) Any Bill relating solely to the prohibition or restriction of immigration into Ceylon, provided that the Governor-General may reserve any such Bill, if in his opinion its provisions regarding the right of re-entry of persons normally resident in the Island at the date of the passing of the Bill by the Legislature are unfair or unreasonable.
    (c) Any Bill relating solely to the franchise.
    (d) Any Bill relating solely to the prohibition or restriction of the importation of, or the imposition of import duties upon, any class of goods, provided that such legislation is not discriminatory in character.
    iii. Any Bill affecting currency or relating to the issue of bank notes. iv. Any Bill of an extraordinary nature and importance whereby the Royal Prerogative or the rights and property of British subjects not residing in Ceylon or the trade or transport or communications of any part of the Commonwealth may be prejudiced.
    v. Any Bill any of the provisions of which have evoked serious opposition by any racial or religious community and which, in the opinion of the Governor-General, is likely to involve oppression or serious injustice to any such community.
    vi. Any bill which repeals or amends any provision of the Constitution, or which is in any way repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, unless the Governor-General shall have been authorized by the Secretary of State to assent thereto.
    vii. Any Bill which is repugnant to or inconsistent with the provisions of a Governor-General’s Ordinance.

    33. The Order in Council embodying the Constitution shall provide that:
    (a) The Parliament of Ceylon shall not make any law rendering persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions are not made liable, or confer upon persons of any community or religion any privileges or advantages which are not conferred upon persons of other communities or religions.
    (b) Parliament shall not make any law to prohibit or restrict the free exercise of any religion; or to alter the Constitution of any religious body except at the request of the governing authority of that religious body
    (c) His Majesty in Council shall have power to legislate for Ceylon by Order in Council in regard to External Affairs and Defense.

    34. The existing situation as regards the power of the Ceylon Legislature to make laws having extra-territorial operation shall be maintained.

    5. Certification of all Bills prior to submission to the Governor-General for assent shall be given by the Attorney General.

    36. In summoning, proroguing and dissolving Parliament, and in the appointment and dismissal of Ministers, the Governor-General shall act in accordance with the conventions applicable to the exercise of similar functions by His Majesty in the United Kingdom.

    37. In the event of the absence of the Governor-General from Ceylon, or of his being prevented from acting, the Chief Justice shall administer the Government unless there shall have been some other appointments by Dormant Commission.

    38. Communication from His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to the Government of Ceylon shall in all appropriate cases be addressed to the Prime Minister.

    39. Under the new Constitution the Governor shall bear the title Governor General and shall receive an annual salary of 8000 pounds sterling.

    40. The Governor-General shall have power to make laws to be called Governor-General’s Ordinances dealing with External Affairs and Defense.

    41. The ultimate allocation of any expenditure incurred in consequence of action taken in exercise of special powers relating to Defense shall be settled by negotiation by His Majesty’s Government and the Government of Ceylon.

    42. There shall be a portfolio of Defense and External Affairs held by the Prime Minister.

    The Maldives 
    43. The Order-in-Council embodying the Constitution shall include an exempting provision in respect of the Maldive Islands, similar to Article 2 of the Ceylon (State Council) Order in Council, 1931.

    The public services (Chapter XVII) 
    44. The right to retire on pension with compensation for loss of career already held by certain classes of officers (ie, those whose appointments are subject to approval by the Secretary of State) appointed before July 17, 1928, shall be secured to them afresh under the new Constitution.

    45. In the case of all officers of the classes specified (ie, whose appointments are subjected to approval of the Secretary of State) appointed or selected for appointment after 16th July 1928, and before the publication of this Report, a similar right of retirement on pension, with compensation for loss of career, shall be granted but to be exercised within a period of three years from the date of promulgation of the new Constitution.

    46. Retirement on terms at least equal to “abolition of office” terms shall be granted to all public officers whose posts cease to exist by reason of the coming into operation of the New Constitution.

    47. The pension rights (including the prospective pensions of widows and orphans) of officers who have already retired, of officers still in the Public Services, and of officers who have accepted or may accept transfer from the Ceylon Public Services but have earned a proportion of their ultimate retiring pension by service in Ceylon, shall be suitably safeguarded.

    Public services commission 
    48. There shall be a Public Services Commission consisting of three members, one if whom shall be Chairman, Members of the Legislature, or candidates for election to either Chamber, shall not be eligible for membership of the Commission. One, but not more than one, of the Commission shall be either a retired public servant or a public servant whose membership of the Commission will be his last appointment under the Ceylon Government.

    49. The Chairman and members of the Public Services Commission shall be appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion.

    50. The powers of appointment, promotion, transfer; dismissal and disciplinary control of all officers of the Public Services shall be vested in the Governor-General for exercise on the advice of the Public Services Commission. In the case of appointments carrying an initial salary of less than Rs.2,600 a year (Rs.3,200 a year in the case of “old entrants”), these powers may be delegated to any suitable public officers.

    51. As regards disciplinary proceedings and the hearing of appeals by public servants in respect of salaries, promotions, conditions of service and disciplinary matters, the following procedure shall be adopted:
    i. Where under the present Constitution the Head of Department can institute and complete disciplinary proceeding without reference to any higher authority, the officer in the position of Head of Department under the new Constitution (not the Permanent Secretary) shall continue to be able to institute and complete such proceedings.
    ii. Where under the present Constitution the Head of Department can only institute proceedings and complete an enquiry, but is not empowered to take a decision and must therefore refer the proceedings to the Public Services Commission, who in turn advise the Governor as to the finding and final punishment, if any, similar proceedings under the new Constitution shall continue to be submitted to the Public Service Commission through the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, who will make his own recommendations; but the decision will rest with the Public Services Commission without further references to the Governor-General.
    iii. Where under the present Constitution disciplinary proceedings can be instituted only with the approval of the Governor, they shall be instituted under the new Constitution only with the approval of the Governor; they shall be instituted under the new Constitution only with the approval of the Public Services Commission. The enquiry shall be conducted by a person or persons specially appointed, and the findings shall submitted to the Governor-General.
    vi. In regard to such disciplinary cases as now come before the Public Services Commission under the present Constitution, the Commission shall be a reviewing or confirming authority under the new Constitution, the Commission, and shall act as a Board of Appeal.

    52. The ladder of petition shall be as follows:
    (1) The Head of Department
    (2) The Permanent Secretary
    (3) The Governor-General advised by the Public Services Commission (or the Judicial Services Commission, as to which see below)
    (4) The Secretary of State
    (5) His Majesty the King.

    53. Provision, which shall be as widely drawn as possible, shall be made for the imposition of severe penalties on any person who attempts to influence the decision of the Public Services Commission.

    The judicial services (Chapter XIX) 
    54. A Ministry of Justice shall be established with the following functions:
    i. The administration of justice
    ii. The institution of criminal prosecutions and civil proceedings on behalf of the Crown.
    iii. The drafting of legislation.
    iv. The functions of the Public Trustee.
    v. Control of the Fiscals’ Department.

    (NOTE – The conduct of elections to the State Council might also fall to the Ministry of Justice if not taken over by the Minister for Home Affairs.) 

    55. There still be a Judicial Services Commission consisting of the Chief Justice as Chairman and two other members, either one present and one retired member of the Supreme Court Bench or two present members, appointed by the Governor-General in his discretion.

    56. The Judicial Services Commission shall advise the Governor-General in the exercise of his powers of appointment, promotion, transfer, dismissal and disciplinary control of all District Judges, Magistrates, Commissioners of Requests and Presidents of Village Tribunals.

    57. The Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the Governor-General acting in his discretion.

    NEXT: Chapter 12: Tryst with Independence 


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