The Democratic State and Religious Pluralism

Sunil Khilnani, Vikram Raghavan and Arun K. Thiruvengadam

in Comparative Constitutionalism in South Asia

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780198081760
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199082360 | DOI:
The Democratic State and Religious Pluralism

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This chapter discusses the case of Sri Lanka, a state where a consistent jurisprudence on the constitutional protection of religious pluralism is yet to emerge. It also explores the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on the various provisions relating to religion in the Independence Constitution, and the two Republican Constitutions of 1972 and 1978. The main divisions in Sri Lankan society are between ethnicities and language groups, not religions. The author shows how the use of religion as an ethnic marker has serious constitutional and political ramifications under the two republican constitutions of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Constitution needs to provide a secular form of governance which recognises the multicultural and plural nature of society. The author concludes by discussing the relative usefulness of comparative jurisprudence and universalist interpretations in providing a solution to Sri Lanka's constitutional problems.

Keywords: comparative jurisprudence; universalist interpretations; Sri Lankan constitution; fledgling democracy; ethnic markers; multicultural Sri Lanka; religion in Sri Lanka

Chapter.  12478 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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