SC determines some clauses of 20th Amendment inconsistent with Constitution

The Supreme Court (SC) has determined that some clauses of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution are inconsistent with the Constitution.

In the determination read to Parliament today, the Supreme Court has called for a referendum to obtain public approval for those clauses or for changes to be made to those clauses.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana received the determination of the court and presented it to Parliament today.

Announcing the Supreme Court’s determination the Speaker said the bill is in compliance with provisions of article 82(1) of the Constitution and requires the pass by special majority specified by article 82(5) of the Constitution.

The court has determined Clauses 3,5, 14, and 22 in their present form are inconsistent with article 3, read with article 4 of the Constitution, and therefore requires approval by the people at a referendum by virtue of the provisions of the article 83.

Clause 3 refers to the powers and functions of the President, Clause 5 refers to the immunity of the President from suit, clause 14 refers to the powers of the President to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament and clause 22 refers to the offences any public officer has to face due to failure of complying to the directions given by the Election Commission in holding elections and referendum as mentioned in Article 104GG.

The court however said that, such inconsistencies in clauses 3 and 14 would ease by amending in accordance with the proposed committee stage amendments and the inconsistency in clause 5 would seize if clause 5 is suitably amended specified in the determination.

The Supreme Court had on 5th October concluded considering the petitions filed against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and communicated its decision to the Speaker of Parliament.

Several petitions were filed before the Supreme Court against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

The opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the Tamil National Alliance were among the groups that filed petitions in court against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

five- member Supreme Court bench chaired by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya was appointed to consider the petitions.

During the hearings Attorney General Dappula de Livera had informed the Supreme Court that amendments will be introduced during the committee stage debate in Parliament on the draft 20th Amendment.

The cabinet had yesterday decided to introduce three changes to the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution. (Colombo Gazette)