Speaking to Indian Express on 11th Jan 2015, Mahinda Rajapaksa stalwart and former Constitutional Affairs Minister GL Peiris has said that not following the due process established by law, the new regime’s constitution making exercise would become illegal.
Speaking to the Island on 30th Dec 2015, he had also said that though the Constitution had to be amended from time to time as circumstances required, it should be done in accordance with the law and the procedure is very clearly spelt out in Article 82, 83 and 84 in the Chapter 12 of the Constitution.
The legal scholar further elaborated that the most important provision in this Chapter is Article 83. And Article 83 identifies 11 provisions, which require in addition to a two-thirds majority approval by the people at a referendum and that, “these provisions are specifically entrenched in this manner because of the importance in terms of the nature as well as essential characteristics of the Sri Lankan State. They cannot be amended or repealed without a referendum. This is a mandatory requirement contained in the highest law of the land.” GL Peiris further emphasized that those provisions had been given special status to enable the people to consider them separately and decide whether they should be retained or abolished.
Article 83 of the Constitution
Article 83 provides that a Bill for the amendment or for the repeal or emplacement of or which is inconsistent with any of the provisions of Articles 1, 2, 3 (sovereign power of the people which include the power of the government, fundamental rights and franchise), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11, 30 (to extend the term of the President, 62 (to extend the duration of the Parliament) shall not become law unless, in addition to the two-third majority, approved by the people at a referendum and a certificate is endorsed thereon by the President (not by the Speaker) in accordance with Article 80.
Article 82 of the Constitution
The Article 82 in very clear terms provides that no provision in any law shall, or shall be deemed to, amend, repeal or replace the Constitution or any provision thereof, or be so interpreted or construed, unless enacted in accordance with the requirements of the said Article [Article 82 (6)].
The requirements set out in the Article 82 includes that no Bill for the amendment of any provision of the Constitution shall be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, unless the provision to be repealed, altered or added, and consequential amendments, if any, are expressly specified in the Bill and is described in the long title thereof as being an Act for the amendment of the Constitution [82(1)].
It further provides that a Bill for the amendment of any provision of the Constitution or for the repeal and replacement of the Constitution, shall only become law if the number of votes cast in favour thereof amounts to not less than two-thirds of the whole number of Members (including those not present) and upon a certificate by the President or the Speaker, as the case may be, being endorsed thereon in accordance with the provisions of Article 80 or 79 [Article 82(5)].
18-A enacted to satisfy the greed of one individual
When 18th amendment to the Constitution was enacted in September 2010 it was purely done to please the greed of one individual (permitting the President Rajapakse to contest for third term with absolute power afforded to the President to keep the judiciary under his firm grip). Prof. GL Peiris was a leading Cabinet Minister in the regime, a regime that totally refused to follow the due process as set out in Chapter 12 of the Constitution and passed the 18th Amendment as an urgent bill, the process the Prof GL Peiries profess illegal now.
14-A enacted to satisfy the greed of cheat condemned by the people
When the 14th amendment was enacted in May 1988 the process followed by the then President JR Jayawadena was and insult to the sovereign rights of the people. By the said amendment people’s sovereign right of franchise was robbed permitting the party secretaries to ‘elect rejected candidates as MPs through the National List. Though the franchise was an entrenched right (Article 83), the due process, as set out in Article 83, was never followed.
Undeniable truth of insulting intelligence of the people
This is the undeniable truth in the state of affairs in the government business of the Repubic of Sri Lanka, which the media should take due notice of. It is sad that some sections of media continue to afford opportunities to the proven self-cantered politicos to deceive the electorate again and again, which some quarters perceive as an insult the intelligence of the people.
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