Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana yesterday (31 October) endorsed the certificate on the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill, which was passed by a special majority in Parliament recently.
The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill was presented to Parliament on 10 August 2022 by Minister of Justice, Prisons Affairs, and Constitutional Refor
ms and President’s Counsel (PC) Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
Subsequently, as per the Supreme Court determination related to the petitions against the bill, amendments were made at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Judicial Affairs and approval was obtained.
The debate on the second reading of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill was held on 20 and 21 October.
At the end of the second reading, there were 179 votes in favour and one vote against, while in the voting held for the third reading of the bill, 174 votes were in favour and one vote was against.
Accordingly, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill came into force as the 21st Amendment to the Constitution yesterday.
The draft Bill was initially called the 22nd Amendment, as another draft 21st Amendment had already been gazetted – the Bill presented to Parliament by the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) in April as a private Bill. It was later published in the Government gazette and challenged in the Supreme Court.
Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC, who was later appointed the Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs, and Constitutional Reforms, presented a Government Bill to the Cabinet of Ministers in his ministerial capacity, which was referred to as the 22nd Amendment.
The Supreme Court, delivering its determination, ruled that the 21st Amendment put forward by the SJB could not proceed further without a public referendum.
Against such a backdrop, the Cabinet of Ministers gave approval to publish the 22nd Amendment presented by the Justice Minister in the Government gazette.
The two-day Parliamentary debate on the second reading of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution Bill commenced on 20 October. At the end of the debate on 21 October, a vote was called on the bill.
The second reading of the Bill was passed in Parliament by a majority of 178 votes. During the division, 179 MPs in total voted in favour of the bill, and only one voted against.
The third reading of the Bill was subsequently passed in Parliament by a majority of 173 votes. Announcing the result of the vote on the division, Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana informed the House that 174 had voted in favour of the bill, while only MP Sarath Weerasekara voted against it.
A total of 44 MPs including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa were absent during the vote.