ECONOMYNEXT – Questions are being raised whether secretaries of ministries have legal power to run the ministries after the cabinet of ministers was effectively dissolved following a no confidence motion amid a political crisis.
Article 52 (3) of the constitution says: The Secretary to a Ministry shall cease to hold office upon the dissolution of the Cabinet of Ministers under the provisions of the Constitution or upon a determination by the President under Article 43 or 44 which results in the Ministry ceasing to exist.
Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal on Monday suspended Mahinda Rajapaksa and a disputed cabinet of functioning, in the wake of earlier no confidence motions in parliament.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had declared that the cabinet stood dissolved after no confidence motions were passed.
Sri Lanka had permanent secretaries with security of tenure before 1971 constitution and the current one, keeping the public service independent and free of corruption (Sri Lanka mis-use of public funds from ending Permanent Secretaries).
Sri Lanka had a Singapore style civil service until 1971 which was inherited from the Colonial period where a civil service commission appointed, transferred and took disciplinary action against secretaries.
The power went to the cabinet in 1971 and solely to the President in 1979.
The current political crisis was also made possible by the lack of permanent secretaries, political analysts say, where the President was able to swiftly bring in politically connected persons from outside the civil service to run ministries.