The background on 20A must be considered; Gamini Marapana PC tells SC
President’s Counsel Gamini Marapana appearing for the intervening petitioner Prof. G.L. Peiris submitted the background in which the amendment is sought to be made should be taken into consideration by the court in their determination.
He submitted the Supreme Court in its determination on the 17th amendment to the constitution observed it is illogical to require an amendment brought by a majority in parliament to require a referendum for its repeal.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena appearing for the intervening petitioners including Ven. Omare Kassapa Thero, Nimal Siripala De Silva, and Gamini Lokuge, submitted that the 19th amendment to the constitution created an acute impasse in the system of governance in the country.
Quoting an article published by News1st he pointed out that Dr. Jayampathy Wickremerathne had conceded to this fact.
Speaking on the proposed immunity from suit of the President in the 20A he said that although under the proposed amendment the President cannot be held to account, by virtue of the decisions of the Supreme Court, an administrative act of the President would be justiciable.
Justice Aluwihare then questioned PC Jayawardena on what would happen to imminent acts that would infringe on the fundamental rights of the public.
PC Jayawardena responded by saying that the decisions of the Supreme Court can be extended to cover even these imminent acts, and added that this provision in the 20A does not restrict judicial powers.
PC Jayawardena submitted that the question before the Supreme Court is whether the clauses in the 20A can be passed by a 2/3rds majority, or if it infringes on an entrenched provision in Article 83 which would then require a referendum.
He added that the court is not required to decide on the desirability of these amendments.
Making submissions in the Urgent bills provision PC Jayawardena argued that this provision was present in the original constitution and does not in any way restrict the powers of the judiciary.
He added that this provision is needed to pass legislation in situations similar to the April 21st attack and the COVID 19 outbreak.
Speaking further on the matter PC Jayawardena said assuming this power is exercised in good faith it would at most amount to an inconvenient expedition of the determination of the court.
PC Jayawardena cited Article 26(1) on the status of a citizen in Sri Lanka and submitted that there is no relevance in additional citizenships held by a citizen of Sri Lanka, as he is entitled to equal rights as any other citizen of the country.