Attorney petitions against 20A Bill

Sri Lanka Parliament and Supreme Court

A Special Determination petition challenging the constitutionality of the bill titled “Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution” was filed before the Supreme Court yesterday.

Petitioner Indika Gallage, an attorney-at-law is seeking a declaration that the bill in whole or in part thereby requires the approval by people at a referendum and requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The petitioner stated that a bill titled “Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution” was published in the supplement issued on September 2,2020 to the part two of the gazette notification issued on August 28, 2020 and has been placed on Order Paper of the Parliament on September 22, 2020.

This special determination petition was filed through counsel Dharshana Weraduwage.

The petitioner stated that clause 3 of the bill removes Article 33 of the existing constitution, which imposes Enforceable Duties on the President. These rights are enforceable duties under Article 126 fundamental rights to jurisdiction; and may even under writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court when it comes to election matters.

The petitioner further said that clause 5 of the bill removes Article 35 of the existing constitution, which enabled the citizens of this country to challenge the actions and/or omissions of the President by way of Fundamental Rights petitions under Article 126.

The petitioner further said that clause 15 of the bill removes Article 78(1) of the existing constitution, which mandated that the bills be 14 days prior to bill being placed on the Parliamentary Order paper.

The petitioner said clause 17(4) of the bill removes dual citizenship disqualification for the MP’s to be elected. He alleged with the removal of the said disqualification such a Member of Parliament can be appointed to even to be, the Prime Minister, cabinet minister or State Minister or a Deputy Minister. The petitioner fears this is a threat to the national security of the country which includes economic security as well.

The petitioner further alleged that with the repeal of article 104GG, Election Commission can no longer take penal action against those individuals or organizations who had failed to carry out their orders or regulations; which will make the election commission irrelevant.

The petitioner is of the view that “Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution”, as a whole or in part, is in vehement infringement of many entrenched Articles of the Constitution including, Articles 01, 03, 04(d), 12(1), 14(1)(g), 27(2)(a), 27(3), and duly require the approval of the people at a Referendum by virtue of the provisions of Article 83.

(Source: Daily News – By Lakmal Sooriyagoda)