CPA-JHU lock horns in Court over 13A

Tuesday, 2 July 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Centre for Policy Alternatives petition challenging the JHU private members’ bill to repeal the 13th Amendment on the basis that the proposed legislation has been tabled in Parliament without the consent of all provincial councils was taken up before the Supreme Court yesterday. The case came up before a three judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Mohan Peiris and Justices Chandra Ekanayake and Satya Hettige. Appearing on behalf of the Petitioner, Attorney at Law Viran Corea submitted that the private member’s bill would not become law due to failure to comply with procedure laid out in article 154G (2) of the Constitution. He further said that this bill cannot be enacted into law due to non-compliance with Article 154 (G) of the Constitution. He further argued that on several previous occasions, the Supreme Court had determined that in the case of bills that had not been placed on the order paper of Parliament in compliance with provisions of Article 154G (3) of the Constitution, such bills shall not become law. Manoharan De Silva PC, appearing for the JHU said that the Constitution had not been given full jurisdiction to the judiciary to determine on matters of Parliament and the Parliamentary privileges. He said that therefore the Petitioner was inviting the court to determine matters connected to Parliament and Parliamentary privileges. Requesting the court to set aside the business of the private member’s bill, De Silva PC said that the Supreme Court could only determine whether the bill is inconsistent or contrary to the Constitution. Appearing on behalf of the Attorney General, Deputy Solicitor General Indika Demuni De Silva submitted to Court that the petitioner had come to Court on the basis of non-compliance of procedures relating to placing a bill in the order paper. The Solicitor General said that the Supreme Court cannot hear the matter and can only determine whether the bill needs a referendum or two thirds majority of the Parliament. Further she said the Court cannot look into the matters of Parliament because that jurisdiction is not given to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. Attorney-at-law Priyantha Jayawardane appearing for an intervening petitioner made the same argument. The Court ordered all parties to make written submissions on 8 July. The Court will compare determinations to Speaker and the President by 12 July. The CPA petition makes the argument that the JHU Bill to repeal 13A is unconstitutional and cannot be proceeded with, since it has not been referred to all the Provincial Councils as required by Article 154G(2) of the Constitution. “The Bill titled “The Twenty First Amendment to the Constitution (Private Member’s Bill)” can only be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament after such a Bill has been referred by the President, after its publication in the Gazette and before it is placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, to every Provincial Council for the expression of its views thereon, within such period as may be specified in the reference, and shall not become law unless there is due compliance with Article 154G(2) of the Constitution, including the requirement that such Bill is duly referred to every Provincial Council in terms of Article 154G(2) of the Constitution,” the petition states. It adds that Article 154G(2) is far more serious in nature as it deals with situations where Parliament seeks to alter the Constitutional provisions which grant certain powers to Provincial Councils, and could also include a situation such as the present, where Provincial Councils are sought to be abolished in their entirety. Attorneys Luwie Ganeshathasan and Suren Fernando appeared with Attorney Viran Corea for the CPA.