Proposed 20A gravely undermines Sri Lanka's sovereignty-Counsels for SJB

September 30, 2020
Rasika Jayakody, Parliamentarian Mayantha Dissanayake and Lihini Fernando arriving at the Supreme Court this morning Rasika Jayakody, Parliamentarian Mayantha Dissanayake and Lihini Fernando arriving at the Supreme Court this morning

Counsels who appeared for petitioners from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya stated this morning that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution would gravely undermine the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and the basic tenets of the Constitution.

The Supeme Court conducted hearings of the petitions filed against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution for the second consecutive day.

Making submissions for Samagi Jana Balawegaya’s Rasika Jayakody, Counsel Gehan Gunatilleke drew attention to Clause 17 of proposed Bill.

“Holding citizenship of any other country typically entails pledging allegiance to a Sovereign other than the people of SriLanka,” he said.

The question is whether a person who makes such an oath—for example an oath of allegiance to the Queen of England—should ask wield legislative and executive power of the People of Sri Lanka”.

“These oaths impose a legal duty on the said person to safeguard the interests of that country notwithstanding holding any public office in Sri Lanka - in some cases to renounce fidelity to the People.”

Gunatilleke concluded that if enacted, Clause 17 of the draft 20th Amendment would be inconsistent with Article 1, 3, 4 of Constitution. “The clause would therefore require approval by the People at a Referendum in terms of Article 83,” he said.

Making submissions for Samagi Jana Balawegaya’s Lihini Fernando, Counsel Viran Corea said no government can remove constitutional provisions and weaken effectiveness of checks and balances by 2/3 majority alone. "If checks and balances are removed abuses will result in weakening Sovereignty of the People,” he said.

He also said attempting to give “unsigned document that no one knows who authored", without re-Gazetting, that promises sweeping changes, undermines ability of court to properly scrutinise implications. "Court should not accept and pronounce on so-called proposed constitutional amendments."

Farman Cassim PC, appearing for MP Mayantha Dissanayake drew the court's attention to Clause 14 of the Proposed amendment which aspires to dissolve the parliament after 2 and ½ years of being appointed.

"It is respectfully submitted, that in the course of six years during 1999- 2005, there were three general elections and two presidential elections at the expense of the public funds. It is respectfully submitted that these unnecessary expenses due to whims and fancies of the executive will be reintroduced if the proposed clause 14 is passed.

Also, I concur submissions made by the President Counsel and other Counsel, who presided me. I specifically concur and associate myself with the submissions made by Mr. Kanag-Isvaran PC, in as much as the Bill named “The 20th Amendment to the Constitution” violates the basic percepts of Constitutional law and thus cannot be even put to a referendum by the people and Your Lordships’ court should strike down the Bill. "

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