By Rosy Senanayake –
Today (11/07/2013) I sought to present the Bill which appeared as item 4 in today’s Order Paper, at which point the Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena raised an objection that the Attorney-General’s views had not been obtained. Consequently the matter was put off pending a ruling by Mr. Speaker.
In this connection, I wish to draw your attention to Standing Order 47 which sets out the procedure for presenting Private Members’ Bills.
You will note that there is not one word about obtaining the views of the Attorney-General.
Reference should also be made to Article 77 of the Constitution.
There again the duty is cast on the Attorney-General – not on the Member seeking leave to present a Bill.
It is for this reason that Standing Order requires the Bill be referred without discussion to the relevant Minister. Casting the obligation on the Minister to refer it to the Attorney-General.
This position, I understand has been confirmed by an earlier Cabinet Circular dated 30 May, 1979.
Furthermore, you will appreciate that Private Members have no access to the Attorney-General nor is he obliged to give opinions to us. Neither is there a procedure for obtaining such opinions.
If Dinesh Gunawardena’s argument is correct then, every Bill must come along with a certificate from the Attorney-General. This is so because Article 77 of the Constitution does not differentiate between Bills, be they, Government, Private Member or Amending Bills.
I also wish to bring to your notice several instances where Bills have been presented without a certificate from the Attorney-General.
First among these instances is the abortive 12th Amendment to the Constitution presented by the Hon. Dinesh Gunawardene himself.
Then there is:
Freedom of Information Bill
Right to Education Bill
Protection of Animal Welfare Bill
21st Amendment to the Constitution presented by Rev. Athuraliye Rathana Thero
In the circumstances, I wish to lodge a strong a protest at the Selective Treatment that is meted whenever Women’s Issues are raised.
I trust you will go into this matter and permit me to proceed with my application.
Member of Parliament