Five judges to determine legality of constitutional amendments
[TamilNet, Saturday, 28 September 2002, 13:30 GMT]
The Chief Justice has named a five-member panel of judges to determine the legal validity of the eighteenth and nineteenth constitutional amendments tabled by the United National Front government in parliament. The
thirty-two petitions filed by opposition political parties and lawyers challenging the legality of the amendments will be taken up for inquiry before the panel of Supreme Court Judges from October 1, legal sources said.
The panel comprises the Chief Justice Mr. Sarath N.Silva (chairman), Justices S.W.Wadugodapitya, Ms Shiranee Bandaranaike, Hector S.Yapa and Asoka de Silva.
The main aim of the nineteenth constitutional amendment is to restrict the power of the Executive President from dissolving parliament after one year of its existence.
The eighteenth constitutional amendment gives legal immunity to the members of the Constitutional Council (CC) appointed under the seventeenth constitutional amendment.
According to section 5 of the draft eighteenth constitutional amendment no suit can be filed against any members of the Constitutional Council. This provision has been brought in response to a crisis, which arose following refusal of some members to take up appointment in the independent
commissions for Police, Elections, Public Service and Judiciary fearing legal action. To allay such fears the eighteenth amendment has a provision, which states that no decision of the CC can be challenged in court including the Supreme Court on the grounds of fundamental rights violations.