20A alters Constitution’s basic structure: Counsel

Published : 12:01 am  September 15, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (80) reads | 
  • Says as such it needs referendum

By S.S.Selvanayagam   

President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena in his submissions on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution said the proposed the 20A sought to alter the basic structure of the Constitution and as such needed the consent of the people at a referendum to be enacted.   

The petitions challenging the Bill was taken up before the Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Sisira J. De Abrew, Prasanna S.Jayawardena and Murdu N.B.Fernando.   
The Bill was presented in Parliament by JVP MP Vijitha Herath as a private member’s Bill on September 5 to amend the present Constitution by curtailing some of the powers of the executive presidency provided by the 18th Amendment.   


Sanjeeva Jayawardena PC appeared for the Intervenient petitioner Ven. Iththekande Sadhatissa Thera.   He said in the 1978 Constitution had something unique which was not present in the 1st Constitution of then Ceylon and the Concept of sovereignty of the people of the State was not included in the 1946 Constitution because at that time, we were still the dominion of Britain and the Head of the State was a representative of the Crown.   


   Petitioners seek a determination that the Bill violates Article 3 on the sovereignty of the people which is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the power of government, fundamental rights and the franchise.   


They also seek a determination the Bill infringes Article 4 (exercise of sovereignty) and Article 30(2) [ the President of the Republic shall be elected by the People, and shall hold office for a term of six years]   
They seek the Court that the Bill need to be passed by 2/3rd majority of the Parliament and by a referendum by the people.