- President enabled to hold Cabinet portfolios
- President can determine the number of Ministers
By Ajith Siriwardana
The draft of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution which was gazetted yesterday has proposed key amendments such as replacing the Constitutional Council (CC) with the Parliamentary Council, enabling the President to hold Cabinet portfolios and enabling the President to appoint Cabinet of Ministers.
According to the draft gazetted, the CC will be replaced with the Parliamentary Council which comprised of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, a nominee of the Prime Minister and a nominee of the Leader of the Opposition.
The President will be vested with powers to appoint Chairmen and members of the Commissions: the Election Commission, the Public Service Commission, the National Police Commission, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, the Finance Commission and the Delimitation Commission and also to appoint the Attorney-General, the Auditor-General, Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Secretary-General of Parliament with observations of the Parliamentary Council.
However, when the President seeks the observations of the Council, its observations are required to be conveyed through the Speaker within a week from the date of seeking such observations and if the Council fails to do so, the President could proceed to make the appointments.
In another notable amendment, the President could be a member of the Cabinet of Ministers while being the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers and the President can determine the number of Ministers in the Cabinet and the Ministries and the assignment of subjects and functions to such Ministers in consultation with the Prime Minister where he considers such consultation necessary. According to Article 35, which focused on the Immunity of President from suit, has been repealed in the 20A, where it says “While any person holds office as President, no proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him in any court or tribunal in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him either in his official or private capacity”.
According to Article 33A, where the President held responsible to Parliament for the due exercise, performance and discharge of his powers, duties and functions under the Constitution and any written law, including the law for the time being relating to public security was also proposed to be repealed.
According to Article 70 of the Constitution is also amended by the repeal of paragraph (1) of Article 70 which prevented the President from dissolving parliament until the expiration of a period of not less than four years and six months from the date appointed for its first meeting, unless Parliament requests the President to do so by a resolution passed by not less than two-thirds of the whole number of Members (including those not present), voting in its favour.
According to the Amendment, the President can dissolve Parliament after expiration of a period of one year from the date of a General Election was held upon a dissolution of Parliament by the President.
- President will be vested with powers to appoint Chairmen and members of the Commissions