A new Constitution created by a weakened legislature will not be acceptable

Oposition Members of Parliament protest

ECONOMYNEXT- A new constitution cannot be created through an ineffectual legislature as the legitimacy of such a Constitution will not be acceptable, Senior Lecturer at Jayewardenepura University Vishaka Suriyabandara said.

Attending a webinar organized by the National Moment for Social Justice (NMSJ) yesterday, Suriyabandara who is the Head of the Department of Political Science at Jayewardenepura University said that there are numerous problems in the legal procedure to gain the power required by the legislature to create a new constitution under the current post-20th Amendment power arrangement.

“At this time instead of making a new constitution, we should think about why it is made and how it is made and if it is made how can be it be included in the duties of the legislature because this task cannot be done in a powerless legislature, can we expect legitimacy in that manner? ” she said.

She said that there should be a wider debate in the country about the duties of the representatives of the people as when their duties are not effective, people will not be able to voice their concerns.

“Because it is the parliament that is handed with the task of ensuring the sovereignty of the people, so when it is weakened then we cannot talk about it,” she added.

Further, she said legislature which is tasked with creating laws in a democratic system and which will restrict authoritarianism of the Executive has become a mere signal post that raises its hands when asked.

She added that it is because the legislature and the judiciary are under the control of the powerful executive.

“The Sri Lankan Legislature has become a place that creates and causes problems,” Suriyabandara said.

Also, she said that unlike in the US where the party mechanism is being liquidated, Sri Lanka has a very powerful party mechanism, because the executive is decided upon the party activities.

Suriyabandara said that in a situation like the current government which has a two-thirds majority in the parliament, the task of deciding on the government has converted to a task of the party rather than of the executive. “So decisions which are taken as a party is what is taken forward through the legislature,” she added.

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“This is a very bad situation because we see the traditional parties in the country have fallen apart or are falling apart and different parties represent as one party in the legislature,” she said.

She said that a legislature that can be controlled by the executive exists because both are from the same party and the ability of the executive to control the legislature was strengthened through the 20th amendment.

Last August the cabinet approved the appointment of a nine-member Expert Committee to prepare preliminary drafts for a new Constitution. The Committee is headed by Romesh De Silva PC.

The Committee also includes President’s Counsels Gamini Marapana, Manohara de Silva, Sanjeewa Jayawardena, and Samantha Rathwatte. Legal academics include Professors Nazeema Kamardeen, Wasantha Senevirathne, Dr A. Sarveswaran and Prof. G.L. Peiris.

The committee is currently meeting with the political parties in the country seeking their views. (Colombo/Feb22/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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