Rejecting three petitions filed challenging the Private Members’ Bill to abolish the death penalty, the Supreme Court has determined that it lacks jurisdiction to consider any Petition to declare that a particular Bill is consistent with the Constitution, in par with the provisions of Article 120 of the Constitution.
The Bill cited, the Abolition of Death Penalty Act, proposes any reference in any law to the imposition of the death penalty or punishment by death, from and after the coming of the Act, be construed as punishment by imprisonment for life.
United National Party (UNP) MP Bandula Lal Bandarigoda was granted leave to move his controversial Bill to abolish the death penalty and to make consequential provisions in Parliament on 1 August. Moving the Bill, MP Bandarigoda challenged President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to execute four prisoners on death row before the end of his term. MP Bandarigoda’s Bill proposes that Parliament to commute all death sentences to sentences of life imprisonment.
As per the transitional provisions, it is proposed that any person in respect of whom a sentence of death has been imposed prior to the coming into force of the Act be deemed to be a person sentenced to imprisonment for life in respect of such offence. Any person who has committed, prior to the coming into force of the Act an offence punishable with death, but in respect of whom a sentence of punishment has not been imposed by the Court, shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable with imprisonment for life. (AH)