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Centre for Policy Alternatives files petition against 20A in the SC

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu on Tuesday, September 23 filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the 20th Amendment to Constitution.

The CPA in its petition states:

“ The Bill can only be passed in Parliament with a special majority (2/3rds of the Members of Parliament) and with the approval of the people at a referendum.

Bill titled ‘The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution’ was presented in Parliament on 22nd of September 2020. The petition challenges the following:-

• Clause 5 of the Bill, which attempts to take away the right of citizens to challenge official acts and/or omissions of the President by way of Fundamental Rights Applications. This would remove the only effective check and balance on the holder of the office of President during his tenure of office.

• Clauses 7 and 17 of the Bill, which seek to increase the powers of the President in the appointment of all categories of Ministers, the removal of such Ministers as well as the Prime Minister, and in the dissolution of Parliament. This could result in the President having full control over Parliament and derogating from the role of Parliament as a check on the President.

• Clauses 27 and 28 of the Bill, which aim to introduce a procedure for passing ‘Urgent Bills’, bypassing the opportunity for Citizens to challenge the Constitutionality of these Bills. This limited “pre-enactment review”, contained in Article 121 of the Constitution, is the only opportunity citizens have, to canvass the constitutional validity of a Bill / Act enacted by Parliament.

• Clause 6 of the Bill, which attempts to abolish the Constitutional Council, and replace it with a system under which the President has unfettered discretion to make appointments to key positions. The Constitutional Council, which was constitutionally mandated to endeavour to make its decisions “unanimously”, provides a pluralistic and consultative approach to appoint individuals to key institutions, which are required to function independent of the Executive.

• Clauses 6, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the Bill, which will impact the effectiveness and independence of the Elections Commission. The amendment would denude the ability of the Elections Commission to conduct a “free and fair election.

Several provisions including those mentioned above cannot be passed with only a 2/3 majority of the total number of Members of Parliament, but also needs to be approved by the people at a Referendum, as they violate several entrenched provisions mentioned Article 83 of the Constitution.

These provisions derogate the Sovereignty of the People, which has been guaranteed under Article 3 of the Constitution.”







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