Opposition MPs heckle President, tear bill

[TamilNet, Thursday, 03 August 2000, 07:04 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President spoke on the controversial constitution reform bill in Parliament Thursday morning amidst much clamour in the opposition ranks. The bill was tabled by Justice Minister Prof.G.L Pieris. United National Party members tore copies of the bill in protest and threw them at government members in the house sources said.

The President spoke on the bill for two hours from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. while opposition MPs continued to heckle her. She charged that the opposition is attempting to scuttle the reforms.

The President told Parliament that once the new constitution was passed a copy would be formally presented to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. She said that the aim of this was once the LTTE understood the reality there was a slight possibility that they would come forward for a political solution.

President Chandrika said however that before the talks could begin they would have to stop the killing.

The President arrived and left the Parliament by helicopter under tight security arrangements.

Meanwhile the Speaker Mr.K.B.Ratnayake read out in Parliament the Determination of the Supreme Court regarding the new constitution bill.

The Speaker said: "I wish to announce to the House the Determination of the Supreme Court in respect of "An Act for the Repeal and Replacement of the Constitution" which was referred to the Supreme Court by Her Excellency the President in terms of Article 122 (1)(b) of the Constitution.

"The Supreme Court has determined that the Certificate of the Cabinet of Ministers made in terms of Proviso (b) to Article 120 which in itself is binding on the legislative process as provided in Article 80(2) has the effect of taking away the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to examine the Bill in relation to any inconsistency with the Constitution.

"Further, the Supreme Court has determined that in view of the said certificate of the Cabinet of Ministers made in terms of Proviso (b) to Article 120 of the Constitution that the Bill described in its long title as an Act to Repeal and Replace the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is intended to be passed by a special majority in Parliament as provided in Article 83(b) of the Constitution and submitted to the People at a Referendum comes within the ambit of Article 82 (2) of the Constitution and the course of action as certified by the Cabinet of Ministers for its enactment conforms to the requirements of the Constitution but will not exercise jurisdiction to make any determination in respect of the said Bill.

I order the Determination of the Supreme Court be printed in the official report of today's proceedings."

Meanwhile, hundreds of Buddhist monks marched in protest against the reforms this morning in downtown Colombo.


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