19th Amendment

Published : 9:48 am  April 7, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (2801) reads | 

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‘Dissolution if not approved’

By Yohan Perera

Both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed that Parliament should be dissolved if the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was not approved in Parliament this week, House Leader and Minister Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.  He told a media briefing that there was no purpose in allowing the current Parliament to continue if the 19th Amendment was not enacted and the best option in such a scenario was to dissolve Parliament immediately.

The minister said Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had already made his stance clear that the House would be dissolved if it was unable to have the 19th Amendment approved.

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When asked how the Prime Minister could dissolve Parliament as it was the prerogative of the President to do so, the minister said there was no issue on this matter because both the Prime Minister and the President had discussed this matter and had agree on what needs to be done,”.

He said it was ironic to see those who opposed the Executive Presidency since its introduction trying to sabotage the efforts by this government to curtail the powers of the presidency. He said when the UNP Government introduced the executive presidency in 1977, it was the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the leftist parties which opposed it and today these same parties had made a complete turn around and were opposing the move to transfer the executive powers to Parliament.

However, the minister said the government would consider continuing with the current Parliament if the 19th Amendment was enacted.
When asked whether the United National Party (UNP) would be affected if President Maithripala Sirisena, former Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa were on one stage, Mr. Kiriella said it won’t affect the UNP at all.  He said the UNP would welcome Ms. Kumaratunga if she wished to sit in Parliament. Reacting to the criticism that this government was lethargic in dealing with corruption, he said the people should not forget that the Government must operate within the laws of the country.

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The Parliament Business Committee met yesterday with the participation of representatives from all political parties in Parliament. The SLFP was represented by Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva, Chief Opposition Whip John Seneviratne and former Minister G.L. Peiris.

It is learnt that the SLFP representatives had pointed out that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution presented in Parliament on March 24 and the current version were different from each other because of the proposed amendments.
They said, the people should be given the chance to petition the Supreme Court based on the latest version of the constitutional amendment.

However, House Leader Lakshman Kiriella and Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe were opposed to any postponement. They insisted on taking up the bill for debate as scheduled on April 9 and 10.
Meanwhile, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa decided to have another party leaders’ meeting after the Supreme Court’s determination on the constitutionality of the bill was communicated to him and then decide on the dates for the debate.

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SLFP also wants poll reforms

By Sarah Muiz

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) said yesterday it would support the Government to pass the 19 Amendment to the Constitution only on condition that it was implemented simultaneously with the electoral reforms.
Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva told a news conference that the current regime was attempting to hoodwink the people by presenting a twelve-page modified version of the 19th Amendment which was not even gazetted and the Supreme Court had not concluded its determination on the 19th Amendment.
He said the opposition was against the amendment as it was against the Constitution. Mr. de Silva said they would await the Supreme Court determination after which they would discuss the matter further with the Speaker.

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He said the opposition was not agreeable to the debate on the 19th Amendment being effected on April 8, 9 and 10 because the new draft proposals have still not been presented in Praliament.

Mr. de Silva said the 19th Amendment and the electoral reforms must be implemented together to maintain stability in the country and confirmed that they were not opposed to certain powers of the executive presidency being pruned.
In addition to this, the opposition said that they are not bound to work according to the whims and fancies of the UNP since they are entrusted with the responsibility of providing people with a true service.
Moreover UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha said the May Day rally would commence from Hyde Park and that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ex president Chandrika Kumaratunga and President Sirisena are invited for the rally.

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AG says 19A needs no referendum

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Attorney General Yuvanjana Wijayatilake PC yesterday informed Supreme Court that the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution could be passed in parliament with a two-thirds majority without referring it to a referendum because it did not interfere with the basic structure of the Constitution.

The AG made this observation at the hearing into the constitutionality of the proposed 19th Amendment being heard by a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice K. Sripavan and Justices Chandra Ekanayake and Priyasath Dep PC.
To a question asked by the Chief Justice, the AG said executive powers should not rest solely on the President and that it should be delegated. However, he observed that the President would remain as the head of the executive and of the state.
The AG said the proposed amendment does not interfere with the sovereignty of the people as stipulated in Article 3 and 4 of the constitution and that there was no necessity to seek a public referendum.

When the Chief Justice asked how the president’s executive powers given by people could be delegated to the Prime Minister or someone else, the AG replied that it could be done through a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice asked about Article 33 (1) of the proposed bill which stated that “the President shall be the symbol of national unity”. The CJ proposed that the national flag of the republic should be considered as the symbol of national unity rather than the President and the AG warmly welcomed the CJ’s suggestion.

The AG said the delegation of powers to the Prime Minister could be considered as a step taken to enhance democracy.
The SC yesterday concluded the hearing and will convey its determination to the Speaker and the President.

Gomin Dayasiri, Udaya Gammanpila, L.P.I. Perera, Darshana Weerasekara, Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera, S. Wanigasekara, Ven. Matara Ananda Sagara Thera, D. Weraduwage, SLPI, Piyal Nanayakkara, Somaweera Chandrasiri of MEP, Nishantha Warnasinghe of the JHU, MTV Channel, MBC Network, Nagalanda Kodituwakku and T.A. Jayakody filed special determination petitions while Krishantha Nalanda Ambagaspitiya, K.S. Upul Prabhath, Mohinudeen Mohammed Mustqdeen, Wasantha Piyal Rajakaruna and Geoffrey Alagaratnam filed intervenient petitions in SC in terms of Article 129 (1) of the Constitution. The petitioners cited the Attorney General as the respondent.