Government of Sri Lanka

Governance in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a Democratic and Socialist Republic, boasts a unique governance system characterized by its blend of a semi-presidential and parliamentary framework, all enshrined in the Constitution of Sri Lanka. Our nation’s governance structure reflects a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Executive Power

At the helm of the nation is the President of Sri Lanka, who serves as both the head of state and government, as well as the commander in chief of the armed forces. The President is popularly elected for a six-year term and is responsible to the parliament in the discharge of their duties. They lead a cabinet of ministers, all elected members of parliament. It’s worth noting that the President enjoys legal immunity from proceedings related to their actions during their tenure. A significant change came with the 18th amendment to the constitution in 2010, eliminating the term limit for the President, which previously stood at two terms.

Legislative Authority

The Parliament of Sri Lanka is the nation’s legislative body, comprising 225 members. Of these, 196 members are elected in multi-seat constituencies, while 29 are chosen through proportional representation. Members are elected by universal adult suffrage based on a modified proportional representation system by district for a six-year term. The President holds the authority to summon, suspend, or dissolve a legislative session, and can dissolve Parliament any time after it has served for one year. The Parliament holds the power to enact laws, and the President’s deputy, the Prime Minister, leads the ruling party in Parliament, sharing numerous executive responsibilities, particularly in domestic affairs.

Judicial System

Sri Lanka’s judicial system is robust and diverse, featuring a Supreme Court as the highest and final superior court of record. It is complemented by a Court of Appeal, High Courts, and a range of subordinate courts. The legal system in Sri Lanka reflects a tapestry of cultural influences. Criminal law finds its roots in British law, while basic civil law draws from Roman and Dutch legal traditions. Laws related to marriage, divorce, and inheritance are community-specific. Additionally, the nation follows Sinhala customary law (Kandyan law), Thesavalamai, and Sharia law in certain cases, preserving ancient customs and religious practices.

The President is responsible for appointing judges to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Courts. A judicial service commission, comprised of the Chief Justice and two Supreme Court judges, is tasked with appointing, transferring, and dismissing lower court judges.

Sri Lanka’s governance structure underscores its commitment to democracy, cultural diversity, and the rule of law. It serves as a testament to the nation’s rich heritage and its dedication to upholding these fundamental principles.