Sept 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has ruled that a referendum is needed in addition to a two-third majority vote in parliament to approve the 20th Amendment to the Constitution Bill which sought to hold elections to all nine provincial councils on the same day.
Bill titled "Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution" has been challenged in the Supreme Court in terms of Article 121 (l) of the Constitution.
Parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya told parliament on Tuesday that the majority of the Supreme Court ruled that a referendum was also required for the bill to become law.
"The majority of the Court has determined that clauses 2, 3 and 4 of the Bill is inconsistent with Articles 3, 4, 12(1) and l4(l) of the Constitution and under Article 83 the Bill shall become law if the number of votes cast in favour thereof amounts to not less than two-thirds of the Whole number of Members (including those not present), approved by the People at a Referendum and a certificate is endorsed thereon by the President in accordance with Article 80."
The Speaker ordered the determination of the Supreme Court be printed in the official report of today's proceedings.
The ruling party in the government yesterday decided not to debate the bill in parliament tomorrow awaiting the Supreme Court decision. The Second Reading of the bill was scheduled for September 20th.
According to the amendment, the election of the members to all provincial councils should be held on a single date. The date for the dissolution of provincial councils will be decided by Parliament and it should be noted that if the term of any provincial council winds up before the due date, it will be extended up to the day of election.
Under the previous government, elections to the provincial councils were held at different times as their term expired.
As a result of the apex court's ruling the government will be compelled to hold elections three provincial council elections - Eastern, North-Central and Sabaragamuwa - this year. The three councils will have to be dissolved early next month and elections will have to be held in December as the government is unlikely to proceed with a referendum.