Lawyer petitions SC against 20A
By Kamal Weeraratna
A lawyer, yesterday (22), petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the draft Bill of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, which was tabled in Parliament.
The petition sought a Court decision declaring that the 20th Amendment requires a public referendum to be passed as it violates basic rights of citizens.
The petition has been filed by Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage through Attorney-at-Law Dharshana Weraduwa, while the Attorney General, Dappula de Livera has been named as the sole respondent.
The petition alleges that the proposed 20th Amendment curtails a number of basic rights and other provisions ensured by the Constitution.
The petitioner has charged that the proposed 20th Amendment contains provisions that are seriously prejudicial towards the public, such as the removal of the provisions allowing for the filing of fundamental rights (FR) petitions against the President, curtailing the powers vested with the Election Commission (EC) to file legal action against the violation of directives issued by the Commission, the preventing of the Presidential Secretariat, the Prime Minister’s office and State institutions, from being audited, and removing the restrictions placed preventing a person with dual citizenship from contesting General Elections or Presidential Elections.
The petitioner has further noted that the proposed Amendment seeks to reintroduce the provisions allowing the presenting of emergency bills, which had been done away through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
It also stated that the proposed Constitutional Amendment abolishes the power vested with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to investigate an incident of bribery or corruption without a prior complaint and that it also removes the qualifications required to be appointed as the Auditor General.
The petitioner has also pointed out that the mooted Constitutional Amendment violates the basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as other paragraphs and therefore prays the SC, to deliver a verdict declaring that the draft Bill will require a two-thirds majority in Parliament and a public referendum, ahead of its ratification.