Minister Peiris correct: Pre 19A the president had unbridled power to dissolve parliament.
A plain reading of these constitutional provisions demonstrates that:
(a)Prior to 19A, the only constraint placed on the president’s power to dissolve parliament was when it had been elected consequent to the premature dissolution of the previous parliament by the president. Even in that instance, the president was restricted from dissolving parliament for only one year from the date of election. This limited restriction too could be overcome by a resolution of parliament.
(b)19A increased the constraints on the president, such that he cannot dissolve parliament until the lapse of four and a half years from its first meeting, unless requested to do so by a two-thirds majority resolution of parliament.
Thus, on a plain reading of the constitutional text, the president did in fact have effectively unchecked power to dissolve parliament and call for a fresh election, even one day after a new parliament was constituted. The 19th Amendment curtailed this power*.
Therefore, we classify this statement as TRUE.
*NOTE – When evaluating this claim, FactCheck proceeded on the basis that Minister Peiris’ reference to the president’s “power” to dissolve parliament is to the power to do so at his sole discretion (i.e. – his power to dissolve parliament independent of a resolution by parliament requesting him to do so).
**FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit
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