Lanka SC OK’s Parliament more power over President

New Delhi: Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has ruled that a bill seeking the 22nd Amendment to the constitution can be adopted in parliament with a two-thirds majority and certain clauses require a nationwide referendum, the parliament speaker announced on Tuesday.

The draft bill on the 22nd Amendment, which aims to give power to Parliament over the acting Speaker, was approved by the country’s cabinet and gazetted last month. The 22nd Amendment was originally named 21A and was meant to replace 20A.

The amendment was prepared amidst the ongoing economic turmoil in the country which also led to a political crisis. This is to replace 20A, which had given autocratic powers to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after scrapping the 19th Amendment.

Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abhaywardene said the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution can be adopted only with a two-thirds majority in Parliament and a nationwide referendum on Clauses 2 and 3 of the bill incompatible with the Constitution.

The top court recommended the changes to help Parliament pass the bill only with a special majority. The bill aims to restore independent commissions and curtail certain powers of the President.

The interested parties were given time to file a petition in the Supreme Court. The court’s decision was received by Parliament on Tuesday. 10 such petitions were filed.

22A was to undo 20A adopted in 2020, which restored full executive powers to then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa reversed the features of 19A through 20A which gave power to the Parliament over the presidency.

Rajapaksa was ousted in mid-July through a popular revolt against him for his mishandling of the country’s economy.

Foreign Minister Ali Sabri said on Monday that 22A would be tabled in Parliament very soon for approval.