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Rajapakshe wants 19th A rolled back

The Private Member’s Bill introduced by Parliamentarian Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe as the 20th and 21st Amendments to the Constitution will remove the essence of the 19th Amendment and take it back to “JR’s 1978 constitution in its original form,” legal experts say.

Speaking to RepublicNext Dr Nihal Jayawickrama, currently, an adviser to the United Nations said that this exercise, if successful, will take the current parliamentary executive system back to the executive presidential system.

“If you do away with the constitutional council and if you do away with the restoration of the parliamentary executive form of government, as suggested by these amendments, then that’s basically doing away with the 19th amendment,” the former Attorney General Dr Jayawickrama said.

However, these Amendments to make it through Parliament would need a two-thirds majority in the House, he added. The current government is a minority but will seek a two-thirds majority in General Elections likely in the third week of April.

“Once this is placed in the order papers there are two weeks for it to be challenged before the Supreme Court and then follow normal procedure,” he added.

Jayawickrama also asked why it was introduced at this juncture and as a private members bill. He said that in the event the government dissolves parliament it will be a futile exercise as the bill will have to be introduced afresh to the next parliament.

Other observers said that these suggested Amendments will also undermine the independence of the judiciary. “It is seeking to overturn the essence of the 19th amendment and to concentrate powers in the president. “It will effectively undermine the independence of the judiciary and of the independent commissions,” they said.

Rajapakshe, as the former Minister of Justice under the Yahapalanaya Government ironically introduced the 19th amendment in parliament and steered it to its implementation.

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