Passing of PC polls Bill BASL & TISL criticize Govt

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By 2017-09-26

By Kamal Mahendra

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday criticized the manner in which the Government passed the Provincial Councils Elections (PC) (Amendment) Bill.

The BASL, issuing a 5 page communiqué stated that under Section 78 -1 of the Constitution, the draft Bill, included......in any order paper, should be gazetted at least 14 days ahead and that the standing order should be in accordance with section 78 (2) of the Constitution.

"The Parliament has passed the Bill flouting the Constitution. There is hence a flaw and the people have been misled. They have been denied the opportunity to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court. When the draft bill was gazetted on 2017-06-02, 13 petitions were filed against it by the members of the public. The Supreme Court, which considered the pros and cons of the petitions, decided that the Bill ought to be passed with a two third majority in Parliament and a referendum," the press release said.

Earlier, when the Divi Neguma Bill was similarly introduced by the Government , the three-judge panel comprising Shirani Bandaranaike the then Chief Justice, Priyasath Dep the present Chief Justice, and Eva Wanasundara decided that such a Bill has been passed violating constitutional provisions, the BASL elaborated. The BASL also stated it will be drawing the attention of the Chief Justice to this matter.

Meanwhile, issuing a media release, Transparency International Sri Lanka also states that it was alarmed by the lack of consultation and the procedure adopted in the passage of the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Act.

TISL states that by making Substantial Committee Stage Amendments to the Provincial Council Elections Amendment Act, a key democratic check has been side-stepped as there is no opportunity to assess the constitutional conformity of the amendments.

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