One day after a controversial draft of the 20th amendment was tabled, a total of twelve petitions were filed in Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court challenging it, including by the Tamil National Alliance, (TNA) and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).
The contentious bill is set to replace the 19th amendment passed in 2015, which strengthened the role of the parliament and curtailed the powers of the country’s president.
The bill was tabled by Justice Minister Ali Sabry as opposition members shouted in protest while holding placards and wearing black bands, in what SJB leader Premadasa called a “dark day for democracy.”
The amendment faced public pushback and international criticism causing at least six petitions to be filed against the proposed bill on Wednesday by TNA and SJB.
TNA Leader R. Sampanthan stated, “We have filed a petition on the basis that the 20th Amendment Bill adversely impacts the sovereignty of the people. The legislature and judiciary are sought to be made subservient to the executive. That is not acceptable.”
He went on to say, “Each arm of the government should be able to function independently, without undermining each other.”
If passed the amendment will grant Sri Lanka’s executive presidency even further powers and reduce the few checks and balances that remain.