Two new Members of Parliament were sworn in before Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara yesterday. The first was Abdul Majeed Naushad Mohamed (SLMC) and the other Soloman S. Cyril (TNA). They filled the vacancies created by the resignation of SLMC leader Rauff Hakim and the death of TNA MP K. Sivanesan.
JVP Parliament group leader Wimal Weerawansa was not present though some of the other JVP members like K. D. Lalkantha, Bimal Ratnayake and Vijitha Herath were present. The Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera and member Gamini Jayawickrema Perera were seen in conversation with JVP members.
The Acting Secretary General Dhammika Kitulgoda took his seat but UNP members did not resume their protest chant. The business of the House continued smoothly but the Opposition raised objections to the Environmental Levy Bill being passed on Tuesday (8) without a debate. JVP Colombo District member Sunil Handunnetti said the Environmental Levy Bill was within the purview of the subjects devolved to the Provincial Councils and the views of the PCs had to be obtained before such a Bill was presented to Parliament.
Although the Government said that the Bill had been passed it was not legally passed under the provisions of the Constitution. And, the Bill had been introduced while there was a commotion going on, it had failed to fulfil the provisions of the Constitution.
Leader of the House Nimal Siripala de Silva said neither the JVP nor the UNP had objected to the Bill when it was presented. The Bill had been passed with amendments at the committee stage and now stood passed, he said.
Sunil Handunnetti said at the consultative committee the late leader of the House Jeyaraj Fernandopulle had objected to the draft Environment Levy Bill as it was going to add more burdens on the people. The Bill couldn’t be accepted as having being passed, he said.
Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera and JVP member Bimal Ratnayake, too, objected to the Bill
Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara said, "The Attorney General, in reply to a query about the Bill, had written to me saying that the Bill was not inconsistent with the Constitution."
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said it was not a question whether the Bill was consistent with the Constitution but a question whether the Provincial Councils had been consulted. "The Speaker must give his decision as we feel the Bill was not passed under the provisions of the Constitution."
The Speaker said he would study the matter in detail and give a ruling later.