This statement was made by Minister Sabry in explaining his opposition to the 19th Amendment (19A) to the Constitution. Through this statement he asserts that the constraints on the president to remove the Inspector General of Police (IGP) from office was brought about by 19A.
To assess if 19A made any effective change to the president’s power to remove the IGP, FactCheck consulted constitutional and legal positions immediately before and after 19A was passed in 2015. Article 41c(3) of the Constitution, which was included in 19A, states that the IGP cannot be removed unless provided for by the Constitution or law. There is no change in the Constitutional position before or after 19A on the requirements to be met for the removal of the IGP.
It is the law, and not the Constitution that provides the relevant requirements to be met in removing the IGP. That is the Removal of Officers (Procedure) Act No. 5 of 2002; passed 13 years before 19A. Under this Act, the president is empowered to remove the IGP on the grounds of:
- being convicted of certain offenses or declared insolvent,
- being unfit due to illness,
- loss of citizenship, or
- found guilty of corruption, gross abuse of power, neglect of duty, or partiality of office.
On the first three grounds, documented evidence thereof allows the president to remove the IGP without inquiry. However, if the basis to remove the IGP is (d), at least 75 MPs must submit a resolution requesting the speaker to constitute a Committee to inquire into allegations against the IGP. If the IGP is found guilty by this committee, the speaker presents a resolution to parliament to remove the IGP. If a majority of MPs vote in favour of the resolution, the president must remove the IGP from office.
These facts show that the requirements to be met for the president to remove the IGP were not introduced by the 19A, but by an Act of Parliament of 2002 which pre-existed 19A.
Therefore, we classify Minister Sabry’s statement as FALSE.
*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.
- Removal of Officers (Procedure) Act, No. 5 of 2002, at https://www.srilankalaw.lk/YearWisePdf/2002/REMOVAL_OF_OFFICERS_(PROCEDURE)_ACT,_No._5_OF_2002.pdf (accessed on 07 September 2020).
- The Constitution of Sri Lanka, 1978 (without Amendments), at http://www.parliament.lk/files/pdf/constitution/1978ConstitutionWithoutAmendments.pdf (accessed on 07 September 2020).
- The Constitution of Sri Lanka (up to the 17th Amendment), at https://www.parliament.lk/files/pdf/constitution/constitution-upto-17th.pdf (accessed on 07 September 2020).
- The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, at https://www.parliament.lk/files/pdf/constitution/18th_amendment_act.pdf (accessed on 07 September 2020).
- The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, at https://www.parliament.lk/files/pdf/constitution/19th-amendment-act.pdf (accessed on 07 September 2020).