BASL states that the 22nd Amendment bill falls short of people’s expectations. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) announced today that the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill in its current form does not meet the aspirations of those advocating for systemic change.
At a press conference, BASL President Saliya Pieris PC stated that the Executive Committee of the BASL believes that the said Bill will not create a climate of confidence both within and outside the country of an intention to engage in proper political reform.
The BASL President also raised concerns about the appointment and composition of the Constitutional Council.
According to Mr. Pieris, the BASL believes that the proposed 22nd Amendment, as it currently stands, does not sufficiently ensure the independence of the process of appointing non-Parliamentary members of the Constitutional Council.
The Constitutional Council will consist of seven legislators and three non-legislators. The 22nd amendment proposes that the three non-Parliamentarians be appointed with the approval of a majority of the Parliament’s members. According to Pieris, the majority in parliament will be able to control the composition of the Constitutional Council, reducing the Constitutional Council’s ability to act as a check and balance on the exercise of Presidential powers.
If the Constitutional Council is not independent, the independence of the appointments that the Constitutional Council approves is called into question, according to the BASL President.
The BASL President went on to say that the Constitutional Council’s independence is critical because it is the Constitutional Council that approves key state officers such as apex court judges, the Attorney General, and the Inspector General of Police.
The BASL also pointed out that, while the Governor of the Central Bank is included, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank has not been brought within the purview of the Constitutional Council.
The BASL Executive Committee also observed that the 22nd Amendment does not create sufficient checks and balances on the incumbent President’s exercise of powers under the current Parliament, because most of the provisions in the amendment that seek to limit the President’s powers will become operative only after the dissolution of the current Parliament.
The BASL is also concerned that the 22nd Amendment contains several transitional provisions that will result in the provisions of the 22nd Amendment relating to the removal of the Prime Minister, the appointment of Ministers, and the designation of subjects to them not applying to the current President during the tenure of the current Parliament, thereby failing to introduce adequate checks and balances on the current President.