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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

22 Amendment does not guarantee the independence of the Constitutional Council – BASL

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) today announced that the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill in the present form does not meet the aspirations of the people who are agitating for a change in the system.

BASL President Saliya Pieris PC said at a press conference that the Executive Committee of the BASL is of the view that the said Bill would not create a climate of confidence both within the country and outside the country of an intention to engage in proper political reform.

The BASL President also raised issues relating to the process of appointment to Constitutional Council and its composition.

Mr. Pieris said the BASL is of the view that the proposed 22nd Amendment as presently constituted does not sufficiently guarantee the independence of the process of appointment of non-Parliamentary members of the Constitutional Council.

The Constitutional Council will have seven parliamentarians and three non parliamentarians. Among the three non parliamentarians, the 22nd amendment has proposed that they should be appointed with the approval of the majority of the members of the Parliament. Pieris said that the majority in parliament will be able to control the composition of the constitutional council adversely affecting the ability of the Constitutional Council to act as a check and balance on the exercise of Presidential powers.

If the Constitutional Council is not independent then the question would arise regarding the independence of the appointment which the constitutional council approves, the BASL President added.

The BASL President further observed that the independence of the Constitutional Council is very important because it is the Constitutional Council which approves the key officers of the state including the judges of the apex courts, the Attorney General and Inspector General of Police.

The BASL further observed that the Monetary Board of the Central Bank has not been brought within the purview of the Constitutional Council, although the Governor of the Central Bank is included.

The Executive Committee of the BASL also observed that the 22nd Amendment does not create sufficient checks and balances on the exercise of powers by the incumbent President under the current Parliament, since most of the provisions in the amendment which seek to limit the powers of the President will become operative only after the dissolution of the present Parliament.

The BASL is also concerned that the 22nd Amendment has included several provisos as transitional provisions, which will result in the provisions of the 22nd Amendment relating to the removal of the Prime Minister and the appointment of Minister and designation of subjects to them will not apply to the present President during the tenure of the present Parliament, thus failing to introduce adequate checks and balances on the present President.

(Lakmal Sooriyagoda/Daily Mirror)

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