The Supreme Court (SC) has held that advocating a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered as advocating separatism and therefore the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) does not, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka as envisaged under Article 157A of the Constitution.
Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by H. K. Don Chandrasoma of Kelaniya seeking a Court order declaring that ITAK is a political party which has as one of its “aims” and “objects” the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.
The order stated that ITAK is advocating for a federalist form of government by devolving more powers to the provinces within the framework of a unitary state. Advocating for a federal form of government within the existing state could not be considered advocating separatism.
The Order stated that there could be unitary states with features or attributes of a federal state and vice versa. In a unitary state, if more powers are given to the units it could be considered a federal state. Similarly, in a federal state, if the Center is powerful and the power is concentrated in the Centre it could be considered a unitary state. Therefore, sharing of sovereignty, devolution of power and decentralisation will pave the way for a federal form of government within a unitary state. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is an instance where power was devolved to the provinces.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Prasanth Dep, Justice Uppal Abeyrathne and Justice Anil Goonertane.