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Challenging Speaker certifying Online Safety Bill Sumanthiran’s petition dismissed by SC

01 Mar 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda

A Fundamental Rights petition filed by Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran challenging the Speaker’s act of certifying the Online Safety Bill has been dismissed by the Supreme Court.  

The Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Shiran Goonaratne and Achala Wengappuli refused to grant leave to proceed with the petition taking into account the preliminary objections raised by Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam.  

The Attorney General raised objections citing that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to intervene into the legislative matters following the Speaker’s certification to a bill passed by Parliament.  

The Supreme Court observed that in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the legislature has intentionally ousted the jurisdiction of courts and tribunals not only reviewing the legislation passed by Parliament but also the legislative process in enacting legislation on any ground whatsoever. The Supreme Court further observed that Articles 80(3) and 124 of the Constitution have prevented the post legislative scrutiny of Acts passed by Parliament.  

In his petition, Sumanthiran is seeking a declaration that the Speaker’s certification of the Online Safety Act is not valid in law. The petitioner is further seeking a declaration that the fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 12(1) and 14 of the Constitution to the petitioner and the citizens have been infringed by the Attorney General by failing to advice the Speaker and Parliament that the committee stage amendments did not make the Online Safety Bill compliant with the Supreme Court’s determination.   

The petitioner has cited Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana and the Attorney General as respondents. Senior Counsel Suren Fernando appeared for the petitioner. Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam appeared for the State.