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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Simple majority adequate for Port City Bill – Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris

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The Government has decided to present amendments to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill as per the Supreme Court determination. The Cabinet, at a special meeting held yesterday evening approved to move the relevant amendments to the Bill.

Meanwhile, the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Urban Development and Housing chaired by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday approved the presentation of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill to Parliament with amendments.

The Prime Minister said that it was appropriate to act in accordance with the determination of the Supreme Court regarding the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill.

The Ministerial Consultative Committee on Urban Development and Housing met yesterday at the Parliament Complex.

If all the amendments proposed by the Supreme Court are included in the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill at the Committee Stage, it is clearly mentioned in the Court verdict that the Bill could be passed by a simple majority, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said. Minister Peiris told Parliament yesterday (18) that there is a misconception regarding the SC determination read by the Speaker.

The MP highlighted that certain statements made about how a 2/3 and a referendum is required to pass the Bill are false. He clarified that the Government agrees with all the Supreme Court determinations and amendments on the Port City Bill and therefore, it could be passed with a simple majority in Parliament. Thus a 2/3 majority and a referendum are not required.

“The Government submitted many amendments to the Supreme Court through the Attorney General’s Department. If you read the Supreme Court determinations it is clear that the Supreme Court has accepted these amendments and if these are included into the Bill at the Committee stage, there is no problem and it is clearly stated that it could be passed with a simple majority.”

He said that he had stated on behalf of the government on Monday that the proposals of the SC are fully accepted by the government.

“The Leader of the House will propose them at the Committee Stage on Thursday afternoon. Then once they are included in the law a special majority is not required at all. A referendum is also not necessary at all. It could be passed through a simple majority,” he said.

“The Attorney General had handed over amendments to the Supreme Court and thereby the Court had accepted them. The amendments which have been suggested had been accepted by the Supreme Court. These are not new amendments,” a senior legal advisor to the Government told the Daily News.

Several Clauses in Port City Bill inconsistent: SC

The Supreme Court has determined that several Clauses of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, and can only be passed with a Two Thirds Majority and a Referendum, the Speaker announced in Parliament yesterday (18).

The Supreme Court determination on the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill as read by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena is as follows; “I wish to inform Parliament that I have received the Determination of the Supreme Court in respect of the Bill entitled “Colombo Port City Economic Commission” which was challenged in the Supreme Court in terms of Article 121 (1) of the Constitution.

‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission’ is as follows: 01. The provisions of clauses 3(6), 30 (3) second proviso, 55(2) and 58 (1) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12 (1) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the Special Majority provided for in Article 84 (2) of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the Clauses are amended as mentioned in the determination of the Supreme Court. 02. The provisions of Clauses 3 (5) proviso, 3 (7), 6 (1) (b), 30 (3) first proviso, 71 (1), and 74 (Interpretation ‘Regulatory Authority”) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12 (1) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the Special Majority provided for in Article 84 (2) of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the Clauses are amended as mentioned in the determination of the Supreme Court.

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