The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) yesterday (21) handed over their proposals for the 21st Amendment to the Constitution to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in Parliament.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa handed over the Private Member Bill to SJB General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara in the morning, and thereafter it was submitted to the Speaker by Maddumabandara.
The Proposed amendments include:
The President will remain the Head of State and the Commander-in-Chief and he shall be elected by a majority vote in Parliament for a five-year term, renewable once.
The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament who enjoys the confidence of Parliament. The President has no personal discretion in appointing and dismissing the Prime Minister; in both cases, the confidence of Parliament is the sole test.
The President shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister in the appointment and dismissal of Cabinet and other ministers and in assigning subjects and functions to them. The Prime Minister shall be the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers.
The Prime Minister vacates office on death, resignation, on ceasing to be a Member of Parliament, on losing a vote of confidence, or on a defeat of the Budget in Parliament.
When the Prime Minister loses office in any of these ways, Parliament may elect another Member of Parliament to form a Government.
The vacation of office by the Prime Minister causes the dissolution of the Government.
The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are collectively and individually responsible to Parliament.
The Constitution will provide that upon Parliament passing a motion of no confidence against an individual Cabinet or other Minister, such Minister shall stand removed from office.
There will be no more than 25 Cabinet Ministers and 25 other Ministers Parliament is elected for a fixed five-year term, although it may be earlier dissolved by a parliamentary resolution passed by an absolute majority vote.
Members of Parliament who change their allegiance from the party through which they were elected at the General Election may not accept ministerial office for the duration of that Parliament.
The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases where a Member of Parliament is expelled from their party for changing party allegiance is confined to the legal merits of the expulsion. The Supreme Court shall have no jurisdiction with regard to the procedure adopted by the party in the expulsion.
The Constitutional Council is re-established, chaired by the Speaker and having as members the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, a nominee of the other parties in Parliament, and five other independent members.
The Constitutional Council shall make binding recommendations to the President for appointments to the independent commissions, and approve the President’s recommendations for appointment to key State offices.
The Right to Information Commission and the Colombo Port City Economic Commission are added to the bodies that shall be appointed on the recommendations of the Constitutional Council, and the office of the Governor of the Central Bank is added to the offices that shall be appointed on the approval of the Constitutional Council. Provision is made for the establishment of a National Security Council, which will formulate policy and monitor policy implementation in relation to national security.
Also, there shall be a Council of State to discuss matters of national importance and to provide non-binding advice to the Government. It shall be chaired by the Prime Minister, and shall include: the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Defence, the Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, one Member of Parliament to represent the views of parties other than that of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, the Attorney General, and twelve other independent members who are not Members of Parliament, chosen to represent fields of expertise in business, economic, political science, constitutional law, international law and relations , and science. In the appointment of the independent members, regard shall be had for reflecting Sri Lanka’s pluralism, including gender diversity and youth inclusion.
Meanwhile, Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena said the Party leaders handed over drafts of their proposals regarding a Constitutional amendment to the Speaker, during Party Leaders’ meeting held on the same day.
“We hope to provide copies of those proposals to all the party leaders on Friday (22). We are not aware of the contents of those proposals yet. Then special Party leaders’ meeting would be held to determine future action,” Gunawardena said.
By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake