Salient Features of the proposed 20th Amendment bill to the Constitution of Sri Lanka


Salient Features of the proposed 20th Amendment bill to the Constitution of Sri Lanka

A bill titled the 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka (‘Constitutional Amendments’) was presented to the Parliament on 23rd August 2017 and gazetted on 02nd of September 2020.

The Constitutional Amendments retain some of the reforms introduced by the 19th Amendment, including inter alia Article 14A of the Constitution which introduced the Right to Information, the 5-year term limit for the President to hold office and the provisions allowing the President to be elected twice to the office of President, but proposes certain changes such as replacing the Constitutional Council with a Parliamentary Council, granting complete immunity to the President from all court proceedings and allowing the President to dissolve the Parliament either after the lapse of a year or by a resolution passed by ½ of the parliamentary members.

A description of the salient features brought forth by the Constitutional Amendments including a comparison between its provisions and the provisions of the 19th amendment to the Constitution are set out below:

1. Dissolution of Parliament President can dissolve Parliament only after 4 years and 6 months or by resolution passed by 2/3 of MPs.
[70 (1)]
President can dissolve Parliament after 1 year or by resolution passed by ½ of MPs.
2. Eligibility of MPs Dual Citizens cannot be elected.
Dual citizens are now eligible to be elected
3. Number of cabinet Ministers • Maximum of 30 Cabinet Ministers.
• Maximum total of 40 State Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
[46 (1)]
No maximum number is specified for Cabinet Ministers, State ministers, or deputy ministers
4. Removal of Prime Minister Prime Minister can only be removed if he resigns or cease to be a MP.
The President can remove the Prime Minister.
5. Ministerial Portfolios Limited power to hold Ministerial subjects and functions (vide Article 51 of the 19th Amendment Act) President can assign any Ministerial subject or function to himself at any time.
[44(2)] (status quo which existed prior to the 19th amendment, was restored)
6. Eligibility to be President • At least 35 years of age.
• Cannot hold dual citizenship. <(92)
• At least 30 years of age.
• Can be a dual citizen.
7. Immunity of the President • Immunity from civil and criminal proceedings.
• Actions of the President can be challenged by Fundamental Rights Applications in the Supreme Court.
President is Immune from all proceedings.
8. Nature of the Council Constitutional Council was reestablished.
[Chapter VII A]
Constitutional Council was abolished and replaced with a Parliamentary Council.
[Chapter VII A]
9. Appointments to Independent Commissions. (Election Commission, Public Service Commission, National Police Commission…etc.) President is subjected to the recommendations of the Constitutional Council.
[41 B (1)]
President is only required to seek observations of the Parliamentary Council.
[41A (1)]
10. Appointment of High Ranking Officials. (Chief Justice and Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges, Attorney General…etc.) President must obtain prior approval of the Constitution Council.
[41 C (1)]
President is only required to seek observation of the Parliamentary Council.
[41A (1)]
11. Publishing of Bills before placing on Order Paper of Parliament. Must be published in the Gazette at least 14 days before.
[78 (1)]
Must be published in the Gazette at least 7 days before.
[78 (1)]
12. Challenging and Judicial Review of Bills • Any person can Challenge any Bill in the supreme court.
• All challenges to Bills shall be determined by the Supreme Court within 3 weeks.
• No provisions for Urgent Bills [This Article has been replaced by the 19th Amendment- 122 repealed]
• ‘Urgent Bills’ can be passed by Parliament.
• ‘Urgent Bills’ will be directly referred to the Supreme court.
• No provision for the public to challenge ‘Urgent Bills’.
• The supreme Court shall make its determination within 24 hours.
• The President may extend this period up to 72 hours.
13. Referring a rejected Bill to a Referendum. No provisions regarding Bills rejected in Parliament. (The 19th Amendment repealed the provisions allowing a rejected bill to be referred to referendum) The President can submit a rejected Bill to the public for a referendum.
[85 (2)]

Share on linkedin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Consult Our Experts

Our expert team of partners and leading lawyers offer services across extensive practice areas and ensure our clients receive optimal legal advice. They have the capacity to handle everything from intricate cases to crucial disputes, providing top-tier solutions with unwavering dedication and expertise.