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Speaker re-tables CC report after President’s comments

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  • Calls on Parliamentarians to suggest improvements within two weeks

By Ashwin Hemmathagama, Our Lobby Correspondent

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday re-tabled in Parliament the report, which explains the functions of the Constitutional Council (CC) inviting suggestions for further improvement within two weeks, after President Maithripala Sirisena criticised the CC in an address to the House this week.    

According to Jayasuriya, the report was originally tabled in Parliament on 8 December 2016 for the information of lawmakers and was also used to explain the process to the President on 2 January. However, despite prior communications with President Sirisena, the Council and its members were criticised by Sirisena on Wednesday in Parliament for rejecting several nominations sent for promotion. 

Seeking remarks and suggestions on the content of the report, CC Chairman Speaker Jayasuriya said: “Since this matter has been raised by some lawmakers recently in Parliament, today I wish to table again the first report, which contained the details in question. You are kindly informed to forward comments or proposals regarding the guidelines, if there are any, within a period of two weeks.” The re-tabled report clearly outlines the guidelines followed by the CC in recommending the nominations to be considered for making appointments to the independent commissions specified in Article 41B of the Constitution and in approving the nominations forwarded by the President for the appointment of persons to the offices specified in Article 41C of the Constitution.

According to Article 41B, the President appoints the Chairman and the members of the Elections Commission, Public Service Commission, National Police Commission, Audit Service Commission, Human Rights Commission, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, Finance Commission, Delimitation Commission, and the National Procurement Commissions following the recommendations of the Council.

The Article 41C of the Constitution limits the President’s ability to appoint any person as Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, President and the Judges of the Court of Appeal, and the members of the Judicial Service Commission, Attorney General, Auditor General, Inspector General of Police, Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, also known as the Ombudsman, and the Secretary-General of Parliament unless such appointment has been approved by the CC.

The CC was first established in 2000 under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. In 2010, President Mahinda Rajapaksa established the Parliamentary Council under the 18th Amendment to replace the CC. After Maithripala Sirisena was elected President, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the new reforms to reinstate a new CC in 2015 under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The independent commissions were established under the CC, fulfilling one of the major promises of the United National Party-led Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena during the 2015 Presidential election.

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