BASL opposes ‘attempts to dilute 19A’



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Bar Association of Sri Lanka yesterday brought to the notice of President Maithripala Sirisena that there were moves to dilute the provisions of the proposed 19th amendment to the Constitution bill by changing the composition of the Constitution Council and expressed their ‘vehement opposition to any such move.’


"Such a move will seriously affect the independent nature of the appointment of judges and will effectively make the 19" Amendment worthless," the BASL said in a statement.


Full text of the BASL statement signed by its Secretary Ajith Pathirana: "The Bar association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has consistently urged the executive and the legislature that the process of appointment of judges should be in a transparent and independent manner in order to uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary.


"It is in this light that the Bar welcomed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and urged Members of Parliament to enact the changes set out therein in so far as it relates to the Constitutional Council, the Independent Commissions and the appointment of Superior Court judges.


"Upholding the submissions made on behalf the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, the Supreme Court, has, in its determination observed that the Constitutional Council as proposed by the 19th Amendment would be a representative body reflecting the views of diverse groups in Parliament and would be apolitical in so far as the seven non ex-officio persons who are not politicians and are distinguished in public or professional life, are concerned.


"The Bar Association of Sri Lanka now learns that there is a move to dilute the provisions of the 19th Amendment by seeking to have the majority of the membership of the Constitutional Council comprise of Members of Parliament. Such a move will dilute the independence of the Constitutional Council and will In effect take the nation back to the period of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, and Bill lead to a serious erosion of democracy.


"The Bar Association of Sri Lanka is mindful that democracy being left entirely in the hands of politicians is not a healthy practice and that constant vigilance and an input from society is vital for a vibrant democracy.


"We wish to bring to the notice of Your Excellency the vehement opposition of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, to any move to dilute the composition of the Constitutional Council. Such a move will seriously affect the independent nature of the appointment of judges and will effectively make the 19th Amendment worthless.


"The Bat Association of Sri Lanka views with equal concern the effort to remove from the 19th Amendment, the Minister of Justice and the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, from the consultative process suggested to appoint Superior Court judges.


"The Supreme Court in its determination held that seeking the views of different stakeholders in appointing judges including the Minister of Justice and the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanaka, will not be offensive to the powers of appointment, but will rather enhance the quality of those appointments.


"In these circumstances we urge Your Excellency to resist any attempts to dilute these salutary provisions already considered and upheld by the Supreme Court. Such a move would defeat the very purpose of the 19th Amendment, which Your Excellency has been so steadfastly striving to have enacted."


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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