Centre for Policy Alternatives on 31 August, 2010

The Centre for Policy Alternatives Vs. Attorney General (SC SD 05/10)

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The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) made submissions to the Supreme Court on the Special Determination matter on the 18th Amendment Bill. The submissions were heard on 31st August 2010. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution sought to remove the two-term limit on the office of the President, repeal the 17th Amendment and restrict the role of the Elections Commission. The reference made by the President was heard by a five Judge Bench  of the Supreme Court. Six petitioners intervened in the matter, including CPA. The principal arguments of the petitioners were, in general, the secrecy and the rushed manner in which the Amendment was drafted and presented to Court. Further, CPA stated that term limits provide an important check on the concentration of power and the removal of the two-term limit violates the mandate of President Rajapakse. CPA also submitted that the Parliamentary Council which is the proposed alternative to the Constitutional Council is toothless, and that reducing the powers of the Elections Commission will undermine the future of free and fair elections.  The Supreme Court determination recorded in the Hansard dated 07th September 2010, states that while the 18th Amendment complies with the provisions of the Constitution, it requires to be passed by a special majority in parliament and that a Referendum is not necessary.