Centre for Policy Alternatives on 17 January, 2022

Parliament: Law, History and Practice

Categories: BookConstitution


It gives us great pleasure to introduce this short treatise on the law, history, and practice of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.

The colonial origins of the legislature go back to 1833 when a Legislative Council was first established to provide advice and consent to the Governor in the making of laws for the peace, order, and good government of the island. In 1931, whilst still a British colony, the legislature became the first in Asia to be elected on the basis of adult universal franchise. With independence in 1948, Parliament became a sovereign legislature, and after 1972, the principal legislative organ of the Sri Lankan Republic.

This book has been written in a context in which Parliament has a new constitutional prominence after the structural changes effected by the Nineteenth Amendment to the 1978 Constitution in 2015. Indeed, it is the first extended consideration of the constitutional role and operation of Parliament after the Nineteenth Amendment and the introduction of a comprehensive new committee system in 2016. In late 2018, the Parliament of Sri Lanka attracted the approbation of the democratic world when it successfully withstood an attempt to subvert the Constitution, demonstrating not only its new institutional resilience but also its maturity as the national legislature of an established democracy. It is our hope that this
book will contribute to the continuing reinforcement of Parliament’s role in national life, and thereby to the further development of Sri Lanka’s constitutional democracy.

The book is primarily meant to assist the work of Members and staff of Parliament, although we hope it will be useful to the general reader as well. It covers the main areas relevant to the study of the powers and functions of a modern legislature that draws its customs, conventions, and practices from the traditions shared by all Commonwealth Parliaments.

To download this publication in English, click here.

For a Sinhala translation, click here, and for a Tamil translation, click here.