New Constitution : Steering Committee calls for consensual document | Sunday Observer

New Constitution : Steering Committee calls for consensual document

The Panel of Experts, consisting mainly of former university dons has been given two more weeks to agree on a consensual document that would form the basis for discussion and a final report by the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly.

When they met for a crucial meeting on Wednesday, July 18 at the Parliamentary complex, the Steering Committee decided to grant two more weeks to the Expert Panel, when the panel informed the Steering committee members that they have come up with not just one but two reports, since the experts were having dissenting views on certain matters.

A senior official associated with the Constitution making process said, “The dissenting views were over the structure of the document, manner in which it was prepared and the content itself.”

“Dissenting views was a sign that the panel was completely independent from any meddling by the government or any external forces,” the official said. The Steering Committee members informed the Expert Panel, which was nominated by political parties and whose original mandate was to provide technical and legal advice to the Steering Committee, that either they have to harmonise the two documents or come up with a single document in two weeks.

It was alleged that the Co-chairs of the Management Committee, Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne, MP M. A. Sumanthiran MP and a member of the Expert Panel Suren Fernando had unilaterally drafted one document but only six members of the ten had endorsed it.

On May 24, the Expert Panel was given the task of preparing a discussion paper based on the Steering Committee Interim Report, the individual political party representations and the six subcommittee reports.

It transpired in Parliament during the debate on Friday that in the absence of a consensus, the Steering Committee rejected the report by the Expert Panel, granting extra time to put out a fresh report.