Thirty Articles in 20A needs passage by two thirds and at referendum

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that 30 Articles out of the all 38 Articles in the 20th Amendment to the Constitution (20A) need to be passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament and approved by the people at a referendum. It has further determined that six out of eight remaining Articles must be passed with a two thirds majority.

Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri at the commencement of sittings in Parliament yesterday announced the Supreme Court determination on the 20A presented by the JVP MP to abolish the Executive Presidency.

The Deputy Speaker, reading out the Supreme Court ruling, said the Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 36 and 37 of the Bill to provide for the 20A need to be passed with a special majority of Parliament and consequently approved by the people at a referendum as per the 84 (2) of the Constitution.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, Sections 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and 33 of the Bill only need the special majority of Parliament as per the 82 (5) of the Constitution.

The 20A was presented to Parliament by JVP MP Vijitha Herath on September 5. The Bill has also made provisions to prevent the crossovers of MPs against the collective decision of the party.

Under the proposed 20th Amendment, the President will be appointed by Parliament, instead of a Presidential Election. The President will continue to be the Head of State and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but he will no longer be the Head of Government and the Head of Cabinet of Ministers. The proposed 20th Amendment will be implemented only after the current term of office of President Maithripala Sirisena.

As per the draft bill, the Head of Government and the Head of Cabinet of Ministers will be the Prime Minister. The President’s powers are distributed among the Cabinet, Prime Minister, Constitutional Council and independent commissions.

However, the President will continue to have the powers of appointing the Governors of Provinces as same as the 13th Amendment. The President’s power to appoint Ambassadors and High Commissioners and grant pardons will be subject to Cabinet approval as per the proposed amendment. It will also remove the President’s power to prorogue the parliament.

The 20A also requires the President to seek Cabinet approval when granting Presidential pardons. The number of Presidential Staff should also be approved by the Cabinet. The President, once elected by Parliament, cannot hold any position or membership of a political party during his/her tenure.



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