2/3rd in Parliament and Referendum require for 20th Amendment: AG

Tuesday, 18 September 2018 00:25 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S. S. Selvanayagam

 The Attorney General yesterday told the Supreme Court that they are of the view that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, placed as a private member Bill, requires a 2/3rd majority in Parliament, and the consent of the people through a referendum.

Additional Solicitor General Dilrukshi Dias Wickramasinghe, with Deputy Solicitors General Indika Demuni de Silva and Nerin Pulle, as well as Senior State Counsel Shaheeda Barrie and State Counsel Suren Gnanaraj, intimated to Court that they received a copy of the proposed Bill from the Secretary General of Parliament for their observation.

She said the Bill was placed as a private member Bill, and in terms of Standing Order 52 of Parliament, they had sent their observations to the Secretary General of Parliament on 4 July.

Petitions challenging the Bill came up before the Bench comprising Justices Sisira J. De Abrew, Prasanna S. Jayawardena and Murdu N. B. Fernando, for its special determination on the constitutionality.

 The said Bill was presented by Gampaha District MP Vijitha Herath of JVP to Parliament as a private Bill on 5 September, to amend the present Constitution to curtail some of the powers of the Executive Presidency provided by the 18th Amendment.

 Counsel Manohara de Silva PC appeared for the Petitioner Udaya Gammanpila of Pivituru Hela Urumaya, challenging the constitutionality of said Bill. There were 8 petitions.

Sanjeeva Jayawardena PC appeared for Intervenient petitioner Ven. Iththekande Sadhatissa Thera Dharshan.

Petitioners sought the Court for a determination that the Bill violates Article 3 (in the Republic of Sri Lanka, sovereignty is in the people and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the power of government, fundamental rights and the franchise.) They also sought for a determination that the Bill infringes Article 4 (exercise of sovereignty) and Article 30(2) [the President of the Republic shall be elected by the People, and shall hold office for a term of six years].

They asked the Court that the Bill needed to be passed by 2/3rd majority of Parliament and by a referendum by the people.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu intervened in the petition filed by Udaya Gammanpila, MP of Pivituru Hela Urumaya challenging the 20th Amendment to the Constitution (the Bill) which attempts to reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency.

The intervenient-Petitioners of CPA seek the determination of the Court that none of the Clauses in the proposed Bill are inconsistent with any of the Articles referred to in Article 83 of the Constitution, and therefore the Bill does not need to be submitted for the approval of the people at a Referendum. M. A. Sumanthiran PC, with Viran Corea, Bhavani Fonaseka, Shushmitha Thayanandan, Khyati Wickramanayake and Inshira Faliq appeared for CPA.