Delivering a major blow to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the entire Tamil struggle for provincial autonomy since the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court has ruled that powers over land are vested in the Central government and not in the provincial governments, as per the 13th Amendment (13A) of the Lankan constitution.
The ruling,by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mohan Peiris here on Thursday, was given on an appeal made by the Ministry of Plantation Industries, the media reported. The landmark ruling negates the minority Tamils’ long-standing contention that land is a Provincial Subject under 13(A) of 1987, and, therefore, powers over it have to be devolved to the provinces. Land has been a critical and emotional political issue in Lanka in which the Central government and Sinhalese politicians on the one hand, and the Tamil leaders on the other, have taken antagonistic positions right from 1948 when Lanka got independence from Britain. According to the Ninth Schedule of the Lankan constitution, rights over land, land tenure, transfer or alienation of land, land use, land settlement and improvement, vest with the Provincial Council but subject to the extent set out in Appendix II and Art 33 (d).