Parliament to commence debate on 20A today

Parliament to commence debate on 20A today

October 21, 2020   09:14 am

The debate on the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution is scheduled to commence in Parliament this morning (21), as decided during the meeting of the Committee on Parliamentary Business.

Accordingly, the Members of the House will debate the draft bill from 10.00 am to 7.30 pm today and take it up for voting tomorrow (22).

The Committee Stage of Bill is slated to commence tomorrow at 7.30 pm post the debate.

Following the conclusion of the debate, the questions that are to be raised by the parliamentarians in anticipation of oral answers will not be tabled in the House, the Communications Department of the Parliament said, adding that the sessions will not be adjourned for lunch break.

The secret decision of the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the draft bill was presented to the Parliament yesterday (20).

As per the decision of the Supreme Court, the draft bill is in accordance with Article 82 (1) of the Constitution and that it has to be approved with a special majority according to Article 82 (5) of the Constitution.

The draft bill must be approved by the People at a public referendum as per Article 83 of the Constitution, since Articles 3, 5, 14, and 22 of the Bill, as they stand, are not in accordance with Article 3 of the Constitution which is to be read with the Article 4 of the Constitution.

However, the court has concluded that the non-compliance of Articles 3 and 14 can be removed in accordance with the proposed Committee Amendments and the non-compliance of Article 5 may be removed by making amendments as provided in the decision of the Supreme Court.

Minister of Justice, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry meanwhile said the government decided to remove Article 05 and 22 of the draft bill and that measures are underway to change two other Articles.

In the meantime, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) appointed a four-member committee to look into the changes that are being made by the government to the draft bill of the 20th Amendment.

MP Tissa Attanayake said the relevant committee will fill in the fellow SJB parliamentarians on the matter tomorrow.

Minister Udaya Gammanpila meanwhile commented that steps will to be taken to pass the draft bill in the House with new amendments.

Further, the Experts Committee to Draft a New Constitution has decided to obtain public opinion on the matter. Thereby, any citizens who are willing to submit their views are requested to do so in writing, before the 30th of November.

The public can send in their suggestions typewritten in A4 papers either in Sinhala, Tamil or English languages, the committee said, while urging to make a concise presentation of their suggestions.

The proposal can be directed via post or e-mail to the following addresses:

  • Room No. 32, [Block 02] BMICH, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7

The Committee requests the public to use a new page for each of the following topics mentioned below:

  • Nature of the State
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Language
  • Directive Principles of State Policy
  • The Executive (President/Cabinet of Ministers/The Public Service)
  • The Legislature
  • Franchise and Elections including Referenda
  • Decentralization/Devolution of Power/Power Sharing
  • The Judiciary
  • Public Finance
  • Public Security
  • Any other area of interest not specifically referred to above
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