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Bandaranayake, Shirani Anshumala (1986) The Devolution of Government in Sri Lanka: Legal Aspects of the Relationship Between Central and Local Government; an Historical and Comparative Study. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In the context of recently accentuated communal divisions in Sri Lanka, the thesis seeks to examine how far present schemes for the decentralisation of Government provide for a degree of local autonomy which may be sufficient to accomodate divisive and secessionist tendencies. The question is approached through an analysis of the legal elements in the relationships between the central and local government authorities, traced through the historical evolution of the law from ancient times and specially from the early colonial period. The thesis contains eleven Chapters including a general introduction and a conclusion and is divided into three parts. Part One examines the historical aspect of the central-local government relations, with special reference to developments in relations during the colonial and the independence periods. Part Two discusses the legal aspects of the relationship between the Central Government and local authorities, while the era of decentralised administration, and the developments which it introduced in central-local government relations are evaluated in Part Three. The second Chapter attempts to analyse the relationship which existed between the ancient Central Government and local government institutions, such as the Gamsabhawas (Village Councils) and the Rata Sabhawas(District Councils).Chapter Three discusses the developments in central- local government relations as well as in local government institutions during the period 1856 to 1928;while Chapter Four is mainly based on an analysis of the developments during 1928 to 1948 and in the aftermath of independence. The fifth Chapter analyses the powers of the Central Government of the country during this latter period. In Part Two legal aspects of the relationship are discussed. Chapter Six examines the role of the administration with regard to the Central Government and the local authorities of the country while Chapter Seven analyses the role of the courts in central-local government relations. Chapter Eight discusses the impact of finance in central-local government relations. The final Part, which discusses the current era of decentralised administration in Sri Lanka, demonstrates analytically the various political attitudes towards the decentralisation of the administration and the establishment of Development Councils in 1981. The extent of decentralisation in the field of local government by the introduction of Development Councils is assessed and it is argued that the newly introduced Development Councils are under the direct control of the Central Government. An attempt is made to identify the role of the Development Councils in strengthening the relations between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils in the island; the conclusion is that these Councils could contribute significantly to the improvement of communal relations if the Government sees fit to grant them the full measure of powers anticipated by the legislature. Some minor reforms are identified as essential for the creation of better relations between the Central Government and the local authorities in Sri Lanka. The thesis is mostly based on Sri Lankan experience. However, when appropriate, it has analysed comparatively the particular aspects of local government in other countries, especially in England and India.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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