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BASL called to discuss 20th Amendment

President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris, a candidate for the Presidency of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has written to the BASL President regarding certain provisions of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution which he said could impact on the independence of the judiciary and on the legal profession.

Pieris suggests that the BASL should urge the relevant authorities to have a consultative process with major stakeholders including the BASL, prior to the enactment of constitutional amendments.

“The proposed amendment to Article 35 takes away the ability of a person to challenge by way of a Fundamental Rights application, an act or omission of a President. There are several ongoing cases against the acts or omissions of former Presidents including the applications relating to the State’s negligence relating in respect of the Easter Sunday attacks and the pardon given to the convict in the Royal Park murder. The BASL itself is a petitioner in the former case and a respondent in the latter,” Pieris said. Saliya Pieris argued that people would deprive the opportunity to challenge an act or omission of a President, if this amendment was passed. He also concerns regarding the amendments relating to the appointments of judges of Superior Courts which provide for only non-binding observations to be obtained from the Parliamentary Council which would consist entirely of Members of Parliament including the Speaker, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

He further said the provisions relating to the Judicial Service Commission and the Attorney General are matters that need to be concerned. “I understand that the Bar Association is considering constituting a Committee to examine the provisions of the Bill. I request that the aforesaid matters too be considered so that representations could be made regarding the same to the President and the government on what changes could be made to the Bill in order to address the concerns relating to the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession,” Pieris added.

Source:- Daily News

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