DID LEGISLATURE “INTEND” TO BY-PASS THE DETERMINATIONS OF THE JUDICIARY ON 19A? WHY 20A IS NEEDED?
Posted on September 26th, 2020

M D P DISSANAYAKE

Sri Lanka is known as a notorious country for changing its Constitution.  There were claims that Ceylon cannot be developed under the Soulbury Constitution, until Art. No. 29 was amended and scrap the Senate and Rights of Appeal to the Privy Council of England .

When Late Mr Lew Kwan Yew was in power, media asked him, Why don’t you change the Constitution?.  Without referring to a specific nation, he replied: there is one country which changed its Constitution so many times since its Independence, still in a mess.  I don’t need to change my Constitution, but if I want to do something, then I know which Article on which Page to use”.

The No. 20   used as an amendment  has so far been unsuccessful. In June 2015, the Yahapalana government approved a draft to enact amendment no.20, aimed at:

(a)   .increasing the number of MPs to 237

      (b)145 Parliamentarians to be elected under the first past the post system, 55 under the district  proportional representation system and 37 from the national list.

JVP, a sleeping partner of the Yahapalana opposed it, as it will adversely affect the minor parties.

Then, JVP brought its own  No.20  in 2019 with the backing of UNP, TNA and SLMC to abolish Executive Presidency in March 2019.  That too did not go the distance.

Now the focus is on the  efforts to amend the   Amendment No. 19.  Mr Wimal Weerawansa during the most recently concluded  general election made No.l9  a headline placards carried by his supporters, demanding scrapping of Amendment No. 19.  He further said that   I am not speaking so much about No. 19, because No. 19 is my preference ( MANAPA) number”. This was in July 2020 and we are now  in Sept 2020, it is amazing politicians forget the past in less than 3 months!

President Maithreepala Sirisena was elected by the public mandate for a period of 6 years, under the 18 th Amendment.   Under 19 th amendment, it was curtailed to 5 years, without obtaining the consent of those who elected him to high office for 6 years.   The Transfer of Powers of the Executive President  to the Prime Minister , The Speaker and Independent Commissions were  carried out by-passing the Voters consent.

Tinkering on the edges, the  dubious manipulations were carried out at Committee Stage to by-pass the referendum.  The reason to by-pass the referendum was too obvious, that well over 50% of the voters were not likely to give executive powers  to a Prime Minister of the day, who did not possess even a simple majority in the Parliament!

This was a Legislative Conspiracy, to twist the arms of Voters, without reaching out to them.  Will it be argued that 19A was an act of mala-fides, ( an act of bad faith and intent to deceive)?

In 2002 the attempt to amend the Article 70 of the Constitution to remove the powers of the President to dissolve the parliament one year after inauguration did not proceed, as seven Supreme Court Judges unanimously decided that such an amendment must be passed by a special majority ( meaning two thirds) plus  approved by the people at a referendum.

Where did  the Speaker  derive constitutional  and transitional legislative authority  to sign amendment No.  2015  draft into Law ?

Did  Speaker violate  the Art.79 ss.80.2 in 2015 by signing a lopsided half-backed legislation into Law to give Executive Powers to his political party Leader?

සාමාන්‍ය ජනතාව අසන්නේ ඉතා සරල පැණයකි. ඉතා සරල විසඳුමක්ද සහිතවය.  එනම්      19 සංශෝධනය වලංගු නැත්නම් 20  සංශෝධනය මොන කෙභෙල්මලකටද,  අපි 18 ඉමු යනුවෙනි.

The General Public have a  very simple question with a very simple solution.  That is:  If 19 amendment is not valid, why the hell we need 20th  amendment, lets stop at 18!

Is there still room to challenge the 19A  and who will come forward? 

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