The Government today decided not to hold a referendum to legalise the controversial Divi Neguma Bill but would introduce amendments at the committee stage in Parliament as directed by the Supreme Court.
The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary and Minister Susil Premajayantha said the Supreme Court had acted differently in its judgments on more controversial and sensitive constitutional issues like the 13th Amendment and had not called for referendums.
The minister said this must be so because rulings on similar legal or constitutional issues tend to be different because they are delivered by different SC Benches.
“We will follow the instructions given in the second ruling by the Supreme Court on the Divi Neguma Bill and will introduce amendments so as to make the Bill consistent with the Constitution.
The SC in its second ruling had determined that two clauses of the Appropriation Bill were inconsistent with the Constitution in terms of Article 148 of the Constitution that vests Parliament with full control over public finances.
The SC has agreed with the concerns raised by petitioners that Clause 2 (1) (b) which deals with powers to raise loans and Clause 7 of the Bill presented a direct challenge to parliamentary control over public finances and therefore those clauses have to be amended so that they are consistent with the Constitution or passed with a two-third majority and go for a referendum.
The minister said Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa will move for the appointment of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) made up of members from the Government and the Opposition under Standing Orders 78 He said might most probably be a 10-member committee. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)