For the first time in recent history, 20 lawyers will appear before the Supreme Court today (28) over a single case- against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.
Senaka Perera, Attorney-at-Law of the People’s Lawyers’ Association is the Consultant Advocate of this group. Achala Seneviratna, Sachindra Thushara De Zoysa, Namal Ajith Rajapaksa, DUlan Dasanayaka, S.K. Manjula Pathiraja, Upali Amarawansa Rathnayaka, Mohamed Najim Faizar, Chulasinghe De Zoysa, Manju Sri Chandrasena, Chula Ranjeewa Adikari, Prema, Aruni Kumarasiri, Nazeem Sainul Luthufi, Srinath Perera, Sugandika Fernando, Shammi Chinthaka Fernando, Amila Indika, Manoj Uduwana, K.P.K. Upali Ranjan, Prabodha Chinthaka Rathnayaka and Kalinga Nalaka Piyawansa are other members.
No lawyers in favor
Perera said to MediaLK.com that it is important as professionals to step up a group. However, when asked about the absence of prominent senior lawyers in such a gathering, he said that everyone has the freedom to express their opinion and it is noteworthy that no lawyer other than the Minister of Justice has so far expressed his views in favor of this bill.
Nearly 40 petitions
The Minister of Justice and the President’s Counsel Ali Sabri presented this bill to the court on 22nd and court sources mention that nearly 40 petitions will be filed against it. In addition to these, former ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Rauf Hakeem were supposed to present their petitions against the 20th Amendment today. Some petitions were already filed by Ranjith Madduma Bandara on behalf of the United National Front, R. Sampanthan representing Tamil National Alliance, Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage, Anil Kariyawasam, Nagananda Kodithuwakku, Chief Executive of the Centre of Policy Alternatives Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Transparency International, former governor Rajith Kirthi Thennakoon, a human right activist Sreen Abdu Sanoon, S.C.C. Elangovan, Mareen Lohini Fernando and Lakmal Jayakody.
Calls for a referendum
The petitions, making the Attorney General the respondent, have requested from the Supreme Court to hold a referendum as this amendment to the constitution poses a great threat to the rights and sovereignty of the people, 2/3 in Parliament is not sufficient. However, the Attorney General’s Office had informed that a referendum was not necessary.
Attorney General is just a lawyer
Commenting on this, President’s Counsel Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratna said to MediaLK.com that the Attorney General is only a lawyer representing a party before the Supreme Court. He emphasized that even though the Attorney General at the time when President Sirisena dissolved the parliament in 2018, Jayantha Jayasuriya’s opinion was the President was well reasoned but rejected by the Supreme Court hearing a petition challenging the decision of the President.
A five-judge panel
A five-judge panel headed by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya has been appointed to consider the petitions tomorrow (29). It includes Supreme Court Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Sisara de Thabrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, and Vijith Malalgoda.
No petitions from JVP
Neither the People’s Liberation Front (JVP) nor the National People’s Force representing the party has filed any petitions challenging the bill. Parliament MP of NPP and JVP Publicity Secretary Vijitha Herath told MediaLK.com that only a consultation of the Supreme Court can be held here and that his party would make the public aware of the contents of the draft. He added that they are not willing to go to the Supreme Court against this and will work along with the people to strengthen Democracy.
Problems are not mentioned in public
Commenting on the opposition to the draft amendment, the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Minister Dayasiri Rathnayaka says that his party also has many problems regarding the draft amendment. But the government will not be embarrassed by saying them in public and his party will submit their proposals to the President and the Prime Minister in the future, said the Minister who is also a lawyer.
The Secretary of the Sri Lanka People’s Freedom Alliance who represents both the parties SLFP and SLPF, Mahinda Amaraweera said with MediaLK.com that the aim of the SLFP is to lead the government to prepare a new constitution immediately. He further mentioned that the 20A is still under studying and the relevant proposals will be made in near future.
Two sides in the government
Meanwhile, an intense situation has been created between the President’s party and the Prime Minister’s party regarding the specific issues in the draft. One of the major issues among them is the proposal to remove the audit of state-owned companies from the Auditor General. The committee appointed by the PM to inquire the 20A has also recommended to alter this section. The PM had emphasized to the ministers and MPs that he will intervene in this problem of fiscal management.