Uncertainty over post of Chairman: Police Commission at a standstill | Sunday Observer

Uncertainty over post of Chairman: Police Commission at a standstill

All functions of the National Police Commission (NPC) have reportedly come to a standstill due to the continuing uncertainty over the post of its Chairman. According to sources, a current member of the NPC, Thilak Kollure was appointed as the Commission’s Chairman on February 19 although the current Chairman P.H Manatunga’s appointment ends on January 20, 2020 according to his appointment letter in January 2017 as stipulated by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

“The letter clearly states my appointment will only end in January 2020” Manatunga told the Sunday Observer and added that much confusion has been created by appointing a second person prior to the lapse of his tenure. Kollure has since declined the appointment citing personal reasons leaving the NPC in limbo over its current chief.

Article 38 (1) (4) of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which established Independent Commissions states that every member of the Commission shall hold office for a period of three years from the date of appointment and can only be removed if he is disqualified or resigns from the position prior to the date.

Manatunga who at the time was a member of the NPC was proposed by the Constitutional Council and appointed to the position on January 19, 2017, when former NPC Chairman Prof. Siri Hettige stepped down from the post. According to Manatunga, he has received no formal communication citing the reasons for his seeming removal and neither has he resigned from the post. “Therefore, it is questionable as to how another Chairman can be appointed while my tenure has not ended” he said.

Sources within the NPC said that the Presidential Secretariat has since intimated a technicality in the appointment of Manatunga as Chairman while a senior official of the Secretariat had verbally instructed the NPC Secretary Saman Dissanayake to refrain from holding the Commission’s weekly meetings till the matter was resolved.

As a result, the NPC, despite being an Independent Commission has been prevented from functioning since February 18 bringing all its activities to a grinding halt. The Commission has since missed two of its regular meetings while making decisions on all police promotions, transfers and disciplinary issues have been suspended.

While Manatunga has inquired on the issue from the Constitutional Council he said that he was instructed on numerous occasions to continue in his post by the Chairman of the Constitutional Council, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya which however has been impossible due to the unofficial bar on holding NPC meetings.

According to the NPC Chairman, while the Speaker has assured that the matter will be taken up by the Constitutional Council in the past week, the Commission is yet to receive a response in this regard.

Numerous official communications by the NPC to the Presidential Secretariat have also gone unanswered.

“We have not had any response since,” Manatunga said. The majority of the NPC members are said to be of the view that the Constitutional Council should be held partly responsible for the mess as the appointment of Kollure was made on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council and was precipitated by them.

The current tenure of the remaining members lapsed on October 15, 2018 and the Constitutional Council was expected to propose new members or the reappointment of the current members of the NPC.

Due to the confusion, the Council had suggested the name of Thilak Kollure as the Chairman despite Manatunga’s tenure running till 2020 but also correctly replaced two of its current members with Senior Deputy Inspector Generals of Police Gamini Nawarathna and Ashoka Wijethilake.