156 ‘aye’ & 65 ‘nay’ for 20th Amendment

2020-10-22 at 22:01

The 20th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in Parliament with the backing of a two thirds majority.

156 Parliamentarians supported the bill during the final vote of the 20th Constitutional Amendment while 65 MPs voted against it.

All constituent parties of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the National Freedom Front, the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, the Ealam People’s Democratic Party, the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, and the National Congress voted in favour of the bill.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena who is also the leader of the SLFP was a notable absentee during today’s vote.

Meanwhile, Samagi Jana Balawegaya Parliamentarians Diana Gamage, MS Thowfeek, Mohamad Harees, Ishak Rahuman, Aravind Kumar and Faizal Cassim, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress MP Naseer Ahamed and AS Raheem of the National Muslim Alliance also voted in favour of the 20th Amendment.

The remaining SJB members, the Tamil National Alliance, the National Movement for Peoples Power, the Ahila Ilankai Thamil Congress, the All Ceylon Makkal Congress and the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani MPs voted against the 20th Amendment in Parliament.

Several amendments were tabled by Minister of Justice Ali Sabry during the Committee Stage or the Third Reading of the bill.

A number of government MPs and Chief Opposition Whip Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella also submitted changes to the proposed bill during the Committee Stage.

Meanwhile, a separate division was taken to approve the 17th clause of the 20th Amendment which details provisions for dual citizenship holders to enter Parliament, during the Committee Stage.

157 MPs voted in favour of the clause while 64 members voted against it. Meanwhile, the second reading of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution was also in passed in Parliament with a two thirds majority with 156 Members of Parliament voting in favour and 65 MPs against.

The vote was taken up after Members of Parliament debated the draft bill of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution over two days, today and yesterday.

The Minister of Justice presented the bill entitled “Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution” to amend the Constitution in Parliament on the 22nd of September.

Following the presentation of the bill, 39 special determination petitions were filed before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Amendment.

The Supreme Court for two weeks considered submissions pertaining to the special determination petitions. The petitioners sought a declaration that the proposed bill in whole or in part, requires the approval of voters at a public referendum and also requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The Supreme Court’s interpretation was then submitted to the President and the Speaker on the 10th of October.

The Supreme Court had ruled that Articles 3, 5, 14 and 22, as proposed, are not in accordance with article 3 of the Constitution which is to be read with Article 4 of the Constitution. Court also determined to approve the 20th Amendment in its present form; it would require approval at a referendum.

Accordingly, the Justice Minister tabled relevant changes to avoid a public referendum during the Committee Stage.

Following the ratification of Parliament, the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires the signature of the Speaker of House to become a law. The bill will then be gazetted.