The 2018 constitutional coup of Sri Lanka: the role of the judiciary and the constitutional culture

Sri Lanka, throughout its political history, oscillated between dark periods of democratic abuse and its attempts to regain a more balanced constitutional culture. In October 2018, Sri Lanka was plunged into an unprecedented constitutional crisis when the President attempted to remove the Prime Minister and then moved to prematurely dissolve parliament. This reversal of democratic gains and the legality of the executive action were brought before the final arbiter: the judiciary. The paper focuses on the role of the judiciary in particular and the resilient constitutional culture at large. It argues that the 2015 democratic transition and the constitutional reform that followed, empowered judicial independence and produced a democratic, rights-based constitutional culture that reinvigorated Sri Lanka’s core commitments to democracy and the rule of law.