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Sri Lanka releases bill for 20th amendment to constitution

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has published a bill to amend the constitution giving the president appoint ministers taking away the limit, consulting the Prime Minister if thought necessary and appoint judges and key officials after seeking observations from a parliamentary council.

The President could also dissolve parliament after one year, the requirement of a legislator to be a dual citizens is removed.

The proposed amendment on ministerial appointments says.

“The President shall, from time to time, in consultation with the Prime Minister, where he considers such consultation to be necessary –

(a) determine the number of Ministers of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministries and the assignment of subjects and functions to such Ministers; and

(b) appoint from among the Members of Parliament, Ministers to be in charge of the Ministries so determined.

The president could also retain any portfolio.

The president would also appoint members of independent commissions, judges, the attorney and auditor general after seeking observations from a Parliamentary Council.

The parliamentary council is made up of the Prime Minister, Speaker, Leader of the opposition and a nominee from the Speaker and Leader of the opposition.

Key appointments were earlier made by a Constitutional Council in which there were also non-parliamentarians. It sought to partly re-store the independence of the public service that was lost when permanent secretaries were abolished.

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The proposed article says:

41A. (1) The Chairmen and members of the Commissions referred to in Schedule I to this Article and the persons to be appointed to the offices referred to in Part I and Part II of Schedule II to this Article shall be appointed to such Commissions and such offices by the President.

In making such appointments, the President shall seek the observations of a Parliamentary Council (hereinafter referred to as “the Council”), comprising–

(a) the Prime Minister;
(b) the Speaker;
(c) the Leader of the Opposition;
(d) a nominee of the Prime Minister, who
shall be a Member of Parliament; and
(e) a nominee of the Leader of the Opposition, who shall be a Member of Parliament:

SCHEDULE I

1. The Election Commission.
2. The Public Service Commission.
3. The National Police Commission.
4. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.
5. The Commission to Investigate Allegations
of Bribery or Corruption.
6. The Finance Commission.
7. The Delimitation Commission.

SCHEDULE II

PART I
1. The Chief Justice and the Judges of the Supreme Court.

2. The President and Judges of the Court of Appeal.

3. The Members of the Judicial Service Commission, other than the Chairman.

PART II

1. The Attorney-General.

2. The Auditor-General.

3. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman).

4. The Secretary-General of Parliament.

(10) No person appointed to be the Chairman or member of a Commission referred to in Schedule I of this Article or any of the persons appointed to the offices referred to in Part I and Part II of Schedule II of this Article shall be removed, otherwise than in the manner provided for in the Constitution or in any law enacted for such purpose. Where no such provision is made, such person shall be removed by the President.

The draft amendment also strengthens the President’s immunity.

The President would also be able to dissolve parliament after one year instead of the earlier four and a half years.

DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT

14. Article 70 of the Constitution is hereby amended by the repeal of paragraph (1) of that Article, and the substitution therefor of the following paragraph:-

“(1) The President may, from time to time, by Proclamation summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament:

Provided that –

(a) subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (d), when a General Election has been held consequent upon a dissolution of Parliament by the President, the President shall not thereafter dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of one year from the date of such General Election, unless Parliament by resolution

Download the entire Amendment to 20 constitution