The Indo-Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution were drafted nearly 30 years ago. Successive Indian governments have attached a lot of importance to it. There have been many debates over it in the past. Post-2009, new debates on it have again been pushed to the fore.
I have always found it hard to comprehend constitutional/legal matters and these debates on the 13A are no different. The points listed below are in an easy-to-digest form on some factual attributes about the 13A. These facts are gathered from an interview in Tamil given by Kumaravadivel Guruparan to Deepam Television, a European channel in Tamil. The interview is one hour long and the points listed are covered from 30 minutes into the interview up to 50 minutes. The points that were covered are re-ordered below to make it flow in the written format.
Why Tamils Should Know about the Indo-Lanka Accord (ILA) and the 13th Amendment
Powers of provincial councils under 13A
- Provincial Council has no power over land
- The Lankan state – and through it the Governor – has the final power in finance and employee recruitment, sacking and disciplinary action.
- A recent proposal in the Northern Provincial Council to set up a chief minister’s fund was declined by the governor.
In 1987 TULF said about 13A in a letter to Indian prime minister
- 13A was not reached in consultation with India and TULF as suggested in the ILA.
- There is nothing for Tamils in 13A.
North and East in ILA and in 13A
- ILA says north-east is the land of historical habitation of Tamil speaking people.
- ILA sets out how the merger of north and east should be done through a referendum.
13A, on the other hand, does not talk about a merger of the north and east. It permits two provinces to be administered as one with the decision made in parliament. Thus, 13A violates ILA in how it brought about the merger under an Emergency Regulation. In 2007, the Lankan Supreme Court ruled this method as invalid.
What Lanka says about 13A
- In 1987 Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruled that 13A is the MAXIMUM DEVOLUTION that can be under unitary constitution.
- Is it then a deception to talk about 13A+ under the unitary constitution?
- Changing the unitary constitution requires not only 2/3 parliament majority but also a win in a referendum
13A now and then
- 13A was not considered the starting point in any of the previous talks with any of the Lankan government.
- It comes again to the fore only after 2009.
- With all its short comings how can it be a starting point when it is really the end point as stated by the Lankan Supreme Court?
TNA legitimating North East Separation
Although the TNA says the North East is the homeland of the Tamil speaking people
- TNA, by contesting in the separated north and east provincial council elections, has legitimated the separation.
- There is now the tendency/danger in the international arena to shrink the Tamil issue to just north.
Why India loves 13A
- India wants to hold onto ILA for its own security needs. ILA annexure says Lanka cannot sign a security agreement which is against the interest of India with a third country.
- India should be told 13A is violating ILA.