Party Leaders decided to postpone the debate on two controversial bills, the Buddhist Temporalities Amendment Bill (BTA) and the Theravada Bhikkhu Kathikawath (TBK) (Registration) Bill, following discussions held yesterday.
The BTA bill was to be taken for debate today while the TBK was to be taken later this week. Several groups took legal action when the bills were tabled in parliament. The TBK (Registration) Bill which was presented to the House in December last year was challenged in the Supreme Court (SC), on the grounds that it restricts the rights and freedoms of Bhikkhus of the Theravada tradition, in the exercise of their freedom of religion and their freedom of association, and denies them of their fundamental rights. The SC determined that several clauses of the Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, and can only be enacted with a special majority of the House, as well as the approval of the people at a referendum.
Earlier, the joint opposition’s parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardane also requested postponement of the debate.