The draft 21st Amendment to the Constitution, to clip Executive Presidential powers and to re-introduce the features in the 19th Amendment, will be presented to Cabinet today for approval, newly appointed Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, he said that the 21st Amendment would be an improved version of the 19th Amendment, and it would be presented to Parliament as soon as it gets the Cabinet nod.
He underlined that the draft Amendment has specific provisions to prohibit dual citizens from sitting in Parliament. Questioned how this provision would affect the sitting Members of Parliament, who are dual citizens, the Minister responded that such MP would lose his or her seat in the same way MP Geetha Kumarasinghe lost her seat through a court verdict in 2017.
He added that all the provisions in the 21st Amendment would be implemented soon after its passage in Parliament.
He noted that the Constitutional Council headed by the Speaker would be reactivated and three of its Members would be civil society representatives as it had been prior to the 20th Amendment.
Under the 19th Amendment, the 10-member CC was the apex decision making body that recommended the appointments to the Independent Commissions and high ranking positions such as the Attorney General, Auditor General, Parliament Secretary General, IGP, Chief Justice and Superior Court judges. In addition to those appointments, Minister Rajapakshe said, the draft 21st Amendment has mentioned that the appointment of the Governor of the Central Bank will be subject to the approval of the Constitutional Council.
“The President cannot appoint anybody he wants. A substantial amount of powers of the Executive President will be taken over by Parliament and will be distributed among the Cabinet of Ministers, Constitutional Council and Independent Commissions. The Cabinet of Ministers will be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), National Police Commission and the Public Service Commission will be further empowered. The National Audit Service Commission and the National Procurement Commission, which were repealed through the 20th Amendment, will be re-introduced,” the Minister explained.