Jul 30 – Aug 31

ITAK Gets a Clean Chit as Supreme Court Rules Federalism is not Separatism

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The month of August saw a flurry of hectic political activity in Sri Lanka. The statement made by controversial minister Ravi Karunayake at the Presidential Commission of inquiry followed by his resignation, the move to postpone Provincial council polls by way of the 20th Constitutional amendment, the revolt within UNP ranks against the conduct of maverick UNP minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and the fast tracking of probes concerning allegations against family members of ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa along with other issues like the SAITM affair etc have been drawing the attention of the nation at large for the past few weeks.

In the midst of all this August excitement, the supreme court of Sri Lanka delivered a landmark judgement of profound importance on August 4th. The three member bench comprising Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Justice Upali Abeyratne and Justice Anil Goonaratne in a landmark ruling gave a clean chit to the federal form of governance and the chief Tamil political party espousing federalism in Sri Lanka namely the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) popularly referred to in English as the Federal Party(FP).

From the very early years since its inception in December 1949 the ITAK/FP had been accused by its political detractors of being a party attempting to divide the country by espousing Federalism. This has led to the growth of an erroneous impression among many Sri Lankans that Federalism amounts to Separatism . In its long political journey the ITAK/FP found this perception of equating federalism with secessionism a major obstacle in pursuing the objective of power sharing through negotiations.