An Echelon Media Company
Wednesday July 6th, 2022

Sri Lanka Supreme Court determines major provisions of SJB’s draft 21A needs referendum

Proposed provisions on the Constitutional Council and the National Security Council will also require a referendum

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has determined that several provisions in the 21st amendment to the Constitution proposed by the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) are inconsistent with the Constitution and will therefore require a referendum.

Reading from the Supreme Court determination, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena informed parliament on Tuesday June 21 that provisions in the proposed amendment relating to the repealing of Article 31 of the Constitution with respect to electing a president and proposed provisions on electing a president through parliament may only be enacted by a two thirds majority as well as a referendum.

Proposed provisions on the Constitutional Council, the National Security Council, the expulsion of MPs, the dissolution of parliament, and the mandate of provincial governors will also require a special majority followed by a people’s referendum, according to the Supreme Court determination.

The following are the clauses that require a special majority and a referendum.

  1. Clause no 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28 and 36 of the bill contain provisions inconsistent with article 3 read together with article 4b of the constitution, and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required by article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83.
  2. The clauses 2, 3 and 4 of the bill are inconsistent with article 3, read together with article 4e of the constitution, and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83.
  3. Clause 14 of the bill as it presently stands is inconsistent with article 3 read together with article 4b and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83. However the necessity of the referendum will ease if the proposal article 41a1 provides for the president to appoint one person as a member of the council as his nominee. If the proposed article 41a6 is suitably amended to remove the deeming provision set out therein.
  4. Clause 19 of the bill is inconsistent with article 3 read together with article 4b and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83.
  5. Clause 30a of the bill seeks to limit the judicial power of the people and therefore is inconsistent with article 3 read together with articles 4c and 4e of the constitution and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83.
  6. Clause 39 in so far as it seeks repeal of 129, 1 of the constitution is inconsistent with article 3 read together with 4c of the constitution and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83.
  7. Clause 43 is inconsistent with 2 and 3 read together with 4b of the constitution is inconsistent with the of the constitution and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83.
  8. Clause 51 seeks inter alia to introduce chapter 19c titled National Security Council of which the Prime Minister is to be chair person. The proposed article 156j1 and 156j2 are inconsistent with articles 1, 2 and 3 read together with 4b of the constitution and as such may be enacted only by the special majority required article 84, 2 and upon being approved by the people at a referendum by virtue of article 83. However, such inconsistency would cease if proposed 156j1 and 156j2 are amended to change the composition of the proposed National Security Council and make the president the chairperson.

(Colombo/Jun21/2022)

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