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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Sri Lanka: Gender Equality Bill inconsistent with Constitution

The Supreme Court has ruled that the introduction of the ‘Gender Equality’ Bill is incompatible with Article 12 of the Constitution, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana informed Parliament on Friday (7).

The Court further decreed that the Bill, in its entirety, cannot be passed into law unless it adheres to the prescribed procedures outlined in Articles 83 and/or Article 84, in conjunction with Article 80 of the Constitution. These procedures mandate that the number of affirmative votes must constitute no less than two-thirds of the total membership of Parliament, including absentee members, and must also be ratified by the public through a Referendum.

According to the Court’s determination, the Bill’s promulgation is inconsistent with Article 12 of the Constitution.

The objectives outlined in Clauses 2, 3 and 4 of the Bill conflict with Articles 9, 10, 12, 14(1)(e) and 27(1)(g) of the Constitution. Clauses 4, 7, 17, 18, 25, 26 and 27 of the Bill are at odds with Articles 9, 10, 12(1), 14(1)(e), 14(1)(f) and 27(1)(g) of the Constitution. The empowerment of the Council established under Clauses 5 and 6, as outlined in Clause 7, contradicts Articles 9, 10, 12(1), 14(1)(e), 14(1)(f) and 27(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Consequently, Clauses 17 and 18, which establish the necessity of the office of ‘Gender Focal Point,’ as well as provisions in Clauses 8 to 16 and 19 to 24, which govern the existence, management and exercise of powers and duties of the Council, also violate Articles 9, 10, 12(1), 14(1)(e), 14(1)(f) and 27(1)(g) of the Constitution.

The objectives of the Bill conflict with Articles 3, 4(d), 9 and 10 of the Constitution and cannot be separated from the other provisions of the Bill. Consequently, the Supreme Court has determined that the Bill in its entirety is incompatible with Articles 3, 4(d), 9 and 10 of the Constitution.

The Gender Equality Bill is drafted to establish a National Commission for Women, to establish a mechanism including the appointment of an ombudsman for women’s rights and to protect the rights of women and to take legal action by the commission in case of violation of such rights.

By Methmalie Dissanayake/ Ceylon Today

The Gender Equality Bill

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