Cabinet consent to be sought to gazette 22A | Daily News

Cabinet consent to be sought to gazette 22A

Will be included in Constitution as 21A once passed into law

The final Draft of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers today seeking their consent for it to be gazetted.

The 22nd Amendment seeks to prune the powers of the Executive President and prevent people with Dual Citizenship from holding Parliamentary seats among other measures.

Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told the Daily News yesterday that the 22A can be gazetted within a couple of days if the Cabinet gives the go-ahead. However, when it is passed into law it will be included in the Constitution as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.

The 21A was presented to the Cabinet as 22A since the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) had submitted the 21st Amendment to the Constitution in Parliament which also was gazetted. SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara submitted it on April 21 as a Private Member’s Motion.  

The Supreme Court last week determined that some clauses in amendments proposed by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) for the 21st Amendment to the Constitution require a referendum and need to be passed in the parliament with a special majority.

Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on June 21 conveyed the Supreme Court’s determination on the petition against the constitutional amendments proposed by the SJB, during the parliamentary session.

Minister Rajapakshe said the 22A draft which received the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers last week has been determined by the Attorney General as compatible with the Constitution.

After 7 days from the publication in the gazette in terms of Article 78 of the Constitution and on the request of any Minister, a Bill is placed in the Order Paper for First Reading in terms of Standing Order No. 50(1).

Within 7 days from a Bill being placed on the order paper of Parliament, any citizen can challenge the Constitutionality of the Bill in the Supreme Court and the SC should give a determination within 21 days from the day it is challenged in the Supreme Court. The proposed Amendment can be taken up for a Second Reading one week from the first reading. This is the stage at which Parliament debates the proposed Amendment. Thereafter, at the Third Reading, it is voted on, and if sufficient numbers vote in its favour, it is passed into law.

Minister Rajapakshe went on to say that the Government’s intention was to bring 21A as law at the earliest. The Minister said if the 22A is challenged in the Supreme Court the whole process (if both the SC and parliament gives the green light) of incorporating it as 21A in the Sri Lanka’s constitution will take a minimum of 35 days.

The 22A Draft was presented to the Cabinet by the Minister of Justice four weeks ago and then it was decided to resubmit it to the Cabinet after obtaining the proposals of all political party leaders.

The Minister said several rounds of discussions were held with the participation of the leaders of the political parties regarding the Draft Bill and a general consensus was reached between all parties regarding several key points at the second round of discussions convened by the Prime Minister. The 21st Amendment is expected to annul the 20A which gave unlimited powers to the President after abolishing the 19th Amendment.

The Minister said the Independent Commissions which were part of the 19th Amendment will be re-established and the Procurement Commission and the Audit Commission which were abolished by the 20th Amendment too will be reinstated through the new amendment to the Constitution. He said measures brought in the 20th Amendment had contributed to the prevailing political instability which in turn contributed to the downward spiral of the country’s economy.

Dr. Rajapakshe, earlier said the 21st Amendment includes clauses that reduce the powers of the Executive Presidency and prevent people with Dual Citizenship from holding Parliamentary seats.

The 21A will reduce the powers of the Executive President, and make him more accountable to Parliament and the Courts.

Also it will improve the independence of several commissions, by, among other things, depoliticizing the process of appointing members.


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