PARLIAMENT

OF SRI LANKA

SinhalaSriLankaTamil-SriLanka

Constitution

This electronic version of Sri Lanka's Constitution incorporating all amendments [made up to October 03, 2001] was formulated by the Policy Research & Information Unit of the Presidential Secretariat. It is based on the year 2004 reprint 'The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka' published by the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

The soft copy of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka with Amendments incorporated up to the Eighteenth Amendment can be downloaded from here.

Visitors can also access to the 1978 Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in its original form [PDF Format]. The source is the official government website.

 

 

Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka with Amendments incorporated up to the 18th Amendment

Standing Orders

The Standing Orders of Parliament are the agreed rules under which procedure, debate and the conduct of Members in the House are regulated. The main purpose of the Standing Orders is to prescribe the procedure for the functioning of Parliament in an orderly and meaningful manner. It is the most important source of Parliamentary Procedure and provide ample opportunity for debate and enable decisions to be taken under consideration. The Standing Orders have the status of rules under the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

According to the available records in the Library of Parliament, the first set of Standing Orders was adopted by the then Legislative Council in 1912. These were based on those of the British Parliament at that time. Thereafter new such Standing Orders were introduced at different stages in the history of Parliament.

Article 74 of the 1978 Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka states that, Parliament can by resolution provide for Standing Orders. The on going set of Standing Orders was framed under the 1978 Constitution with suitable modifications to the earlier Standing Orders and was adopted in 1979. The Standing Orders can be amended from time to time by the House. Under Standing Order 123 a Committee on Standing Orders shall be appointed.

The Committee should consist of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, Deputy Chairman of Committees and six other members to be nominated by the Committee of Selection. The task of the Committee on Standing Orders is to consider matters of procedure and conduct of business in Parliament and recommend any amendments to the Standing Orders as it deems necessary. Any Member of Parliament may propose amendments by giving notice of the same to the Committee which may consider and include it in its report. The report should be submitted to the House for formal adoption.

The current set of Standing Orders regulates the proceedings of the first meeting after a General Election, Seating of Members, Election of a Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees, Official Oath/Affirmation of newly elected Members and fixing of date and time for meetings. Quorum and Business of Parliament are also governed by the Standing Orders. Procedure for Urgent Bill, Private Member’s Bill, Appropriation Bill, voting and division are laid down in Standing Orders. Standing Orders clearly direct the rules for debate, rules for Members speaking as well as not speaking in Parliament and the rules of Order in the House.

The procedure to be followed for the impeachment of the President, Judges and other officials is specifically given in the Standing Orders. Similarly, there is provision for the removal from office, the Secretary-General of Parliament, Auditor-General, Commissioner of Elections and Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

The Standing Orders contain guidelines for the conduct of the business of the Committees such as the Committee of the whole House, Select Committees, Consultative Committees and also of Committees established for special purposes such as House Committee, Committees on Selection, Standing Orders, Parliamentary Business, Public Accounts, Public Enterprises, Public Petitions, Privileges and High Posts.

The House is empowered to suspend Standing Orders by a motion whenever necessary. If the Standing Orders are silent on matters before the House, the Speaker has a residuary power to regulate such matters. It is the duty of the Secretary-General of Parliament to ensure compliance with the Standing Orders by giving assistance to the Speaker and through the Speaker to the individual members as to the correct interpretation and the application of Standing Orders.

 

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Standing Orders of Parliament

Evolution of the Parliamentary System

historyBefore the colonial period, Sri Lanka was a Monarchy. Thereafter administrative and governmental reforms were introduced under the Portuguese, Dutch and British rulers. Firstly the maritime Dutch territories and subsequently the Kandyan Kingdom came under the British rule in 1815. According to the recommendations of the Colebrook-Cameron commission, the Executive Council and the Legislative Council- the first legislative bodies of colonial Ceylon - were set up by the Governor, Sir Robert Horton, in 1833.

The Executive Council and the Legislative Council met in the building opposite the picturesque Gorden Gardens, now occupied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, until it was shifted to the old Parliamentary Building fronting the ocean at Galle Face. This building was declared open on January 29, 1930 by the then Governor Sir Herbert Stanley and housed the legislature till it was shifted to the new Parliamentary Complex at Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte in April 1982.

The Westminster model was introduced by the Soulbury Commission in 1944. The Parliament consisted of the Queen (represented by the Governor - General) and two Houses, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives consisted of 101 Members and the Senate consisted of 30 Members, of whom 15 were elected by the House of Representatives and 15 nominated by the Governor - General. The Senate was abolished on 2nd October 1971. Consequent to constitutional reforms, the name of the legislature changed several times as follows:

 

The Legislative Council 1833-1931 - (49 Members)
The State Council 1931-1947 - (61 Members)
The House of Representatives 1947 - 1972 - (101 Members and 157 Members after 1960)
The National State Assembly 1972 - 1978 - (168 Members)
The Parliament 1978 - todate - (225 Members)


The construction of the New Parliament at Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, where the palace of the King Vikramabahu III's powerful Prime Minister Nissaka Alakesvara was situated, began in 1979 and was completed in 1982. Mr. Geoffrey Bawa of Edward Reid and Begg was accepted as the architect and a Japanese consortium of 2 Mitsui Companies were contracted for the construction of the new building complex.

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