13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution

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June 11, 2024

13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution

Why in News?:The main  Sri lankan opposition leader Sajith Premadasa in the former war-torn district of Kilinochchi in the northern province  has recently said that a future government under his Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party would implement the 13A .

What is 13 A ?

It is an outcome of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene.


Devolution of Power: The amendment aimed to address the long-standing grievances of the Tamil minority by devolving some power from the central government to Sri Lanka’s nine provinces. This included establishing Provincial Councils with legislative and executive authority over areas like education, health, and agriculture.

Power Sharing & Language Rights: 13A recognized Tamil as an official language alongside Sinhala, promoting power sharing and inclusivity. English remained the link language for administrative purposes.

Key Points:

Provincial Councils: Established elected Provincial Councils in each province, giving Tamils greater control over local affairs in the Tamil-majority north and east.

Merger of Provinces: Initially, the north and east were merged into a single province, a point of contention for some Sinhalese nationalists. This merger was later abolished.

Contentious Issues:

Limited Devolution: Critics, particularly Sinhala nationalists, argue that 13A doesn’t grant enough power to the provinces. Key areas like land and police remain under central control.

External Influence: Some Sinhalese view 13A as an imposition by India due to its involvement in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord that led to the amendment.

India’s Stance:

Power Sharing Solution: India views 13A as a crucial step towards a power-sharing solution that addresses Tamil grievances and prevents further conflict.

Full Implementation: India advocates for the complete implementation of 13A, including devolving land and police powers to the provinces.

The 13th Amendment remains a contentious issue in Sri Lankan politics. Finding a solution that addresses the concerns of all parties is critical for lasting peace and stability.

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13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution | Vaid ICS Institute