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SC rules that 20th Amendment approval needs P’ment majority

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The Supreme Court has determined that several proposed articles of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution presented in Parliament by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) on 5 September require a special majority in Parliament followed by a referendum on par with the provisions of Article 84 (2) of the Constitution in order to be approved. The articles in question are articles 2-16, articles 19-23, articles 26-30, Article 32 and articles 34-37. 

It was further determined that draft articles 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and 33 should be passed with a special majority in Parliament on par with Article 82 (5) of the Constitution.

Opposition JVP lawmaker Vijitha Herath moved a private member bill on 5 September in Parliament to amend the Constitution to abolish the Executive Presidency. The Bill mainly proposed amending Article 4, articles 30-31, articles 33-35, articles 37-41, Article 41c, articles 42-44, Article 46, Article 48, articles 50-52, Article 65, Article 70, Article 80, Article 85, article 88-89, articles 92-94, 99, Article 111C, Article 129, Article 153 and Article 156 of the current Constitution. 

On 18 September Parliament received the copies of the 10 petitions filed in the Supreme Court challenging the 20th Amendment.

MP Herath, who was granted leave to introduce the Bill, explained the purpose of moving a private member motion was that many candidates offered to abolish the Executive Presidency at the previous presidential election and the same intention has surfaced at different forums that discussed amending the Constitution even though no substantial action has been taken.

Criticising the slow process followed to draft a new Constitution, Herath stated: “Even though the abolition of the Executive Presidency was considered the point of moving the 19th Amendment, nothing of that sort happened. The Constitutional Assembly started drafting a new Constitution but it appears to be taking a long time. From the viewpoint of the public, in order to establish democracy in the country the Executive Presidency should be abolished. This Bill is aimed at abolishing the Executive Presidency as the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. We think the massive power entrusted to one person is an issue that needs to get changed. We seek Parliamentary approval to pass this Bill and public support to establish a civilised country.” (AH)

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