Over 470 Bills held up | Sunday Observer

Over 470 Bills held up

Around 477 Bills to be presented in Parliament are stagnating, mostly between the Attorney General’s Department and the Legal Draftsman’s Department over the past ten years, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Champika Ranawaka told Sunday Observer.

Considering this situation, the Cabinet has directed the Justice Ministry to expedite the process of sorting out those Bills depending on the priority of those bills.

This shows the inefficiency of the Attorney General Department, the Minister pointed out.

A highly placed source within the Legal Draftsman’s Department, concurred the number and said that currently there are only 21 Bills held within the Draftsman’s Department

“Although 477 Bills are in the pipeline, all of it is not completely under the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Currently there are only 21 held under the this department. The rest are at various stages under various departments. Some we are waiting for observations by the AG’s department and other ministries,” the source revealed.

Secretary to the Ministry of Justice Padmasiri Jayamanne said that they have advised line Ministers to prioritize the bills depending on the subject matter in order to overcome the backlog.

“Presently we have advised the line ministries to prioritize and inform us. This is not a simple procedure. Some of these bills come from few years back. Priority has not been given to the institutions. Validity of some of the bills no longer exists taking into consideration the circumstances of which the bill was first introduced and have presently changed. Some of the legislations need to be revisited,” he said

The procedure that takes to propose and passed by parliament is a long and archaic one. Once the policy approval is given after presented by the line ministry the cabinet instructs the legal draftsman’s department to draw up the amendments. Then it is sent for concurrence with the Attorney General’s Department. Then it has to be sent to the cabinet through the line minister before it’s presented to the Parliament.

When asked if either the legal Draftsman Department or the AG’s Department is given a time frame to work within per legislation he answered in the negative and explained; “It depends on the nature of the law or the amendments.

Sometimes when the bill goes to the AGs relevant stake holders may bring in their concerns in and express their views which make the bill to be revised.”

Sources within the AG’s Department said that the backlog maybe due to the lack of manpower.