Buddhism bill unconstitutional- Supreme Court

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 January 2005, 01:16 GMT]
The Supreme Court said in its determination that the Bill tabled by Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) seeking to amend the Constitution prohibiting conversion of Buddhists and binding practising Buddhists to bring up their off spring in the same religion should be passed in parliament with two-third majority and also endorsed by the people in the country in a referendum, as some clauses in the Bill are inconsistent with the Constitution, legal sources said.

Speaker Mr.W.M.J.Lokkubandara tabled the determination sent by the Supreme Court when parliament commenced its sitting Tuesday, parliamentary sources said.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices T.B.Weerasuriya, Shiranee Tilakawardene and Raja Fernando, legal sources said, heard the objections against the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution brought by the JHU.

The Bill was tabled by Venerable Ellawalla Medhananda Thera of the JHU in the parliament. The Speaker thereafter referred the Bill for the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality, legal sources said.

In the Supreme Court the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Methodist Church and the All Ceylon Hindu Congress challenged the constitutionality of the Bill.

The clauses of the Bill were such that if enacted into law, it would effectively result in religious persecution not only of minorities, but also in certain respects, adherents of Buddhism with Constitutional sanction, which was an objective inconsistent with the very spirit of the Constitution, a secular state, norms of pluralist democracy and international obligations of Sri Lanka, stated the CPA in its objection, legal sources said.

 

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