SC concludes constitutional amendments inquiry

[TamilNet, Thursday, 03 October 2002, 18:05 GMT]
The inquiry into thirty-one petitions filed against the eighteenth and Nineteenth Constitutional amendments by the seven-member bench of the Supreme Court concluded Thursday. The Chief Justice Mr.Sarath N Silva, the chairman of the seven-member bench, said the order determining the constitutionality of the amendments would be forwarded to the President and the Speaker of parliament.

The petitions challenged the constitutionality of the amendments stating that they violate the sovereignty and franchise of the people. The petitioners sought the SC to determine that in addition to the passage of the amendments in parliament with two third majority, it should be approved at a referendum.

The other judges of the bench were Justices S.W.B.Wadugodapitiya, Ms Shiranee Bandaranaike, Ameer Ismail, Hector S.Yapa, P.Edussuriya and Asoka de Silva.

Counsel for the petitioner Peoples Alliance Mr.Jayamapthay Wickremaratne said that the nineteenth amendments removes the power of President to dissolve parliament after one year of its existence and vests it to parliament. "It constitutes a direct impact on the supremacy of the people. Therefore the amendment should be approved at a referendum," he argued.

At this stage the Chief Justice commented that the executive presidency and parliament are both elected by the people. "Therefore parliament represents a portion of supremacy. The parliament elected by the people persists for six years," the CJ stressed.

President Counsel Mr. Silva appearing on behalf of one of the petitioners said that the amendment envisaged the transfer of sovereignty. Therefore it needs an approval of the people at a referendum.

The Chief Justice then posed a question as to why a referendum is needed for the relevant amendment on its dissolution? President Counsel Mr. Silva further argued that the sovereignty of the people could not be transferred or lawfully vested with anybody else. The Chief Justice then posed another question whether is it justifiable for the President to dissolve parliament after one year of its existence when it was elected for a period of six years.


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