The Governors’ Guild has charged that the Northern Provincial Council’s (NPC) request made to the Government calling for the reduction of the powers given to Provincial Governors was a ridiculous one.
The NPC and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) recently called on the Government to curtail powers given to Governors. According to the NPC and the TNA, the Governors, being representatives of the Executive President were vested with wide powers.
They also said that the term Governor itself contained connotations of being possessed with additional powers.
According to Governor of the Western Province, K.C. Logeswaran, the Provincial Governor was not only the bridge between the centre and the periphery but also the sentinel of the Constitution, looking after the latter.
“In reality, the process is a consultative one with the Governor acting on the advice of the Provincial Chief Minister and Provincial Ministers”, Logeswaran noted while adding that the said Constitutional practice led to very good relations.
The Provincial Councils Act, No. 42 of 1987 as amended by Acts No. 27 and 28 of 1990 provided more powers to Governors as the Government at the time would have felt that there should be no breakdown in the administration. Governors were thereby provided with the power to appoint the Provincial Public Service Commission, a power which is exercised with regard to the appointment of the public service including heads of departments.
“It would be a calamity if elected representatives were to do this”, Logeswaran said while adding that such a system would not work.
“If an independent public service is appointed as is the case with the Constitutional Council (CC), then this would result in the power being taken to the centre”, he explained.
Logeswaran claimed that Governors normally do not act arbitrarily and said that there were systems, procedures and due processes including a board in the manner of the CC appointed to look into matters and appeal panels appointed to make recommendations on courses of action to be taken.
Logeswaran further added that though the Governor could make a ruling regarding the public service, alter or rescind it at his or her discretion, no judge would allow for arbitrary decision-making.
“The powers need not be reduced. The Governors do not have Executive powers. Their role is a constitutional one. In Sri Lanka, Provincial Councils are not coordinate bodies but subordinate ones and therefore, they cannot get all the powers of the Centre or the Parliament and the Parliamentary system. The Parliament is supreme”, said Logeswaran