Deputy speaker Ananda Kumarasiri yesterday informed Parliament that the Supreme Court had determined that the bill titled 20th Amendment to the Constitution, presented by the JVP needed to be passed by a two-third majority in Parliament and approved by the people at a referendum to become law.
There were 38 sections in the bill and 36 of them needed to be passed with special majority in parliament and approved by the people at a referendum as per the Supreme Court determination, the deputy speaker said.
He said that the Supreme Court had determined that provisons of all sections, seeking to prune down the powers of executive presidency were inconsistent with the Constitution. Only two sections, the first section outlining the short title of the bill and the last section outlining the course of action whenever there was any inconsistency between the Sinhala and Tamil texts of the bill, Sinhala text would prevail, were consistent with the Constitution, Parliament was told.
The Supreme Court had made its determination following the petitions submitted against the JVP sponsored bill seeking to prune down presidential powers and the court’s determination had been sent to the Speaker’s Office, the deputy speaker said.
Accordingly the Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36, and 37 would have to be placed before the people at a referendum in addition to passage by a two-thirds majority in parliament. The sections 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and 33 would require a two-third majority of votes in parliament to become law, as per the Supreme Court ruling, Deputy Speaker Kumarasiri said.
The 20-A contains provisions seeking to amend Article 4 of the Constitution, which has vested the executive power in the President, elected by the people. Article 30 of the present Constitution, which has accredited the Head of State position to the President is to be amended by the bill, which also states that the person, elected to the post of president, “shall cease to hold office upon the election of a president by the next parliament notwithstanding the fact that period of five years has not elapsed from the date of his appointment. The President will be elected by a simple majority in Parliament including those not present, within four weeks of its first sitting”, the bill has said.