20th Amendment before 2021 Budget | Sunday Observer
SJB vows to fight Govt’s bid

20th Amendment before 2021 Budget

30 August, 2020

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution which will change many provisions in the 19th Amendment while preserving certain features, will be presented in Parliament before November and it will precede the 2021 Budget, authoritative sources in the Government said. Justice Minister Ali Sabry presented the Cabinet proposal for the 20th Amendment at the last Cabinet meeting and the sources said the Legal Draftsman was already preparing the new legislation.

The first draft of the 20th Amendment is expected to be taken up by the Cabinet shortly.

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris told the Sunday Observer the 20th Amendment will negate certain conundrums in the 19th Amendment. “We will do away with the four and a half year rule to dissolve Parliament and the executive powers transferred to the Prime Minister will be reinstated among others.”

However, the Government has not made it known what the fate would be of the Constitutional Council, the National Election Commission and the Police Commission.

The term of the National Election Commission will expire in November.

One of the major flaws in the 19th Amendment is the quorum of the National Election Commission - without having all three members present, the Commission cannot convene and it became a serious concern during the last parliamentary election with one of the Commission members Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole taking a stance against holding the election.

Prof. Peiris said that the Audit Commission will continue to function even after the 20th Amendment.

In response to the Opposition’s allegations, Justice Minister Ali Sabry said even the architects of the 19th Amendment, Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne and M.A.Sumanthiran held the view that the particular amendment to the Constitution was faulty and, therefore, cannot be sustained.

If the draft receives the green light at the Cabinet, it will be tabled in Parliament where the Speaker will refer it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality and later placed in the order paper for debate.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the main Opposition in Parliament, has vowed to fight the Government’s bid to repeal the 19th Amendment. SLMC leader, Rauf Hakeem, a main constituent of the SJB, however, said they will support the Government to remove obnoxious features in the Amendment but will not agree to abolish the law completely.