The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, (Designated also as the Ombudsman) was provided for in Article 156 (Chapter XIX) of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, which was introduced in 1978, and the first Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration was appointed in 1982.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is charged with the duty of investigation of complaints or allegations of infringement of fundamental rights and other injustices to the citizens.
He is appointed by the President of the Republic and vested with wide powers and independence to freely discharge his duties without fear or favour. His tenure of office and terms and conditions are secure so long as his conduct is found satisfactory.
Initially, the petitions had to be lodged through a member of the Parliament with the Speaker and then are referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration for investigation. However, after an amendment in 1994, the petitions could be lodged directly. This amendment had made the conditions easier for the complainants. This step increased the number of complaints from ten to three hundred fifty a month. There are no expenses to be borne by the complaints on lodging a complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.
Although wide range of subjects is under the jurisdiction of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, yet investigation cannot be initiated into certain subjects. For example power or function of the legislator governing public security, appointments of public officer’s etc.
The mode of working is almost, as same as adopted by other Ombudsmen Institutions around the world. The investigation of complaints is carried out though correspondence, production and perusal of records/files and face to face meeting of both the parties. If the complaint is found genuine and injustice seems to be done with an aggrieved person, the concerned department/authority is asked to remove the cause of the complaint. In cases where a complainant suffers, due to delay or unfair decision he/she is allowed compensation. The decision (termed as determination) is forwarded to the head of the department or the concerned authority with a copy of it to the minister under who’s purview the department or authority lies and a copy to the Public Petition Committee of the Parliament.
Reasonable period is allowed for the execution of the decision (determination). If department/ authority finds itself unable to adhere to the direction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, it is bound to furnish reasons for non-compliance. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration forwards this explanation alongwith a copy of his own report to the President of the Republic and to the Parliament for any action which they deem fit.
Another important function of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is his remedial function, wherever deficiencies in the system are observed in the running of the government departments, advice is rendered for improvement. Similarly wherever, rules, regulation and practices are found unfair, correction is recommended.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is required by the law to submit his Annual Report to the President of the Republic and the Parliament. This ensures his answerability.