SC determines 19th Amendment consistent with Constitution

Sri Lanka Parliament

The Supreme Court has determined that the 19th Amendment is consistent with the constitution and that, however, certain sections require a referendum, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa informed Parliament today.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickramanayake stated that the sections which require a referendum will be omitted from the 19th Amendment.

Speaking to heads of media organizations with regard to the 19th Amendment on March 26, the Premier had said that the government will not proceed with anything that would require a public referendum.

The Supreme Court took up 19 petitions filed against the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution which was presented to Parliament on March 24. The Supreme Court also heard seven intervening petitions in addition to the 19 petitions.

The petitions were taken up before a three Judge Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice K Sripavan and Justices Chandra Ekanayake and Priyasath Dep.

On Monday (06), the Supreme Court concluded the hearings on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which pushes for the amending of executive powers and restoration of independent commissions, while its decision on the constitutional reforms were notified to the Speaker.

Subsequently the parliament is expected to debate the proposed amendment on Thursday and Friday (April 9 and 10) before voting.

A special discussion was held last night (08) between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe concerning issues over 19th Amendment, after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Eight key powers vested with the Executive President were be amended according to the proposed constitutional amendment while the term of the President is due to be reduced from six years to five.

Powers vested with the President to dissolve parliament will be now granted to parliament itself while the President’s term will restricted to merely two terms.

The main constitutional proposals of the 19th Amendment include the transformation of the Presidential form of government to a Presidential-Parliamentary system of government and the restoration of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.

The proposed legislation needs to get the support of all major political parties in parliament, in order to be enacted into law.

The Draft Bill on the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was approved by the Cabinet of Sri Lanka at an emergency Cabinet meeting summoned by President Maithripala Sirisena last month.

(Ada Derana)