PM presents motion to convert parliament into a Constitutional Assembly

Jan 09, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday presented the motion in Parliament to enact a new constitution by converting parliament into a Constitutional Assembly.

A special Parliament session is also to be held next Tuesday to seek approval to convert parliament into a constitutional assembly.

The motion presented by the Prime Minister is reproduced below.

Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe
Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva
Hon. Lakshman Kiriella
Hon. Rauff Hakeem
Hon. Malik Samarawickrama
Hon. D. M. Swaminathan
Hon. (Dr.) Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe
Hon. Patali Champika Ranawaka,— Resolution for the appointment of the Constitutional
Assembly,— WHEREAS there is broad agreement among the People of Sri Lanka that
it is necessary to enact a new Constitution for Sri Lanka;

AND WHEREAS the People have at the Presidential Election held on 08th January, 2015
given a clear mandate for establishing a political culture that respects the rule of law and
strengthens democracy;
AND WHEREAS His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic
Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has clearly expressed his desire to give effect to the will
of the People expressed at the aforesaid Presidential Election by enacting a new
Constitution that, inter alia, abolishing the Executive Presidency;
AND WHEREAS it has become necessary to enact a new Constitution that, inter alia,
abolishes the Executive Presidency, ensures a fair and representative Electoral System
which eliminates preferential voting, strengthens the democratic rights of all citizens,
provides a Constitutional Resolution of the national issue, promotes national
reconciliation, establishes a political culture that respects the rule of law, guarantees to
the People’s fundamental rights and freedom that assure human dignity and promotes
responsible and accountable government.
That this Parliament Resolves that —

1. There shall be a Committee of Parliament hereinafter referred to as the
‘Constitutional Assembly’ which shall consist of all Members of Parliament, for the
purpose of deliberating, and seeking the views and advice of the People, on a new
Constitution for Sri Lanka, and preparing a draft of a Constitution Bill for the
consideration of Parliament in the exercise of its powers under Article 75 of the
Constitution.

2. The Hon. Speaker of Parliament shall be the Chairman of the Constitutional
Assembly. There shall be seven (7) Deputy Chairmen of the Constitutional
Assembly, who shall be elected by the Constitutional Assembly.
In the absence of the Hon. Speaker, the Constitutional Assembly shall elect one of
the Deputy Chairmen to chair the sittings of the Assembly.

3. The quorum for meetings of the Constitutional Assembly shall be twenty (20).

4. There shall be—
(a) Constitutional Advisors to the Constitutional Assembly;
(b) A Legal Secretary to the Constitutional Assembly and assistants to such Legal
Secretary;
(c) Staff for the purpose of recording the proceedings of the Constitutional
Assembly and the Committees referred to in Clause 5; and
(d) Media (including Social Media) Staff of the Constitutional Assembly.
The Media Staff shall set up and maintain a website and use other appropriate
media, towards giving due publicity to the process for the adoption of a new
Constitution for Sri Lanka.
The Media Staff shall ensure that the proceedings of the Constitutional
Assembly and its Committees, as well as public representations / submissions
are documented and published on such website along with such other relevant
expert or technical opinions.

5. There shall be the following Sub-Committees of the Constitutional Assembly:—
(a) A Steering Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairman), Leader of
the House of Parliament, Leader of the Opposition, the Minister of Justice, and
not more than seventeen (17) other Members of the Constitutional
Assembly to be appointed by the Constitutional Assembly.
The Steering Committee shall be responsible for the business of the
Constitutional Assembly and for preparing a Draft of a new Constitution for
Sri Lanka.
(b) Such other Sub-Committees, consisting of Members of the Constitutional
Assembly, which may be appointed by the Constitutional Assembly.
Provided that each such Sub-Committee shall comprise of not more than
eleven (11) Members.
The Chairman of each Sub-Committee shall be appointed by the Steering
Committee.

6. The Constitutional Assembly shall at its first sitting—
(a) elect the Deputy Chairmen;
(b) determine the Sub-Committees referred to in Clause 5(b); and
(c) elect Members to the Sub-Committees referred to in Clause 5.

7. The Prime Minister shall, at the first meeting of the Constitutional Assembly,
present a Resolution for adoption by the Constitutional Assembly, calling upon the
Steering Committee to present a Resolution proposing a Draft Constitution for the
consideration of the Constitutional Assembly, prior to its submission to the Cabinet
of Ministers and Parliament.

8. The Constitutional Assembly is hereby authorised to conduct its sittings in the
Chamber of Parliament,
Provided that the Constitutional Assembly may resolve to sit at any other specified
location outside the Western Province.
Provided further that the presentation of papers, moving of resolutions and voting
on any matter shall only take place in the Chamber of Parliament.

9. The Steering Committee may seek the services of any institution which services
are necessary for the carrying out of the objects of the Constitutional Assembly or
any Committee thereof.

10. The Steering Committee may appoint other experts to aid and advise the
Constitutional Assembly and / or its various Sub-Committees.

11. The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly shall be open to the public. The
proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly and its Sub-Committees shall be
documented and published forthwith. Where appropriate, the Constitutional
Assembly shall take steps to ensure the broadcast of the proceedings of the
Constitutional Assembly and / or its Sub-Committees.
For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby specifically resolved that the special leave
of Parliament is specifically granted in terms of Section 17 of Parliament (Powers
and Privileges) Act for the publication of the aforesaid matters.

For the avoidance of doubt it is further resolved that the proceedings of the
Constitutional Assembly and the Sub-Committees referred to in Clause 5 shall be
deemed to have been reported to Parliament simultaneously, and that the
publication of any such proceedings, which publication is hereby specifically
authorized, shall not constitute an offence in terms of Parliament (Powers and
Privileges) Act.

12. The Constitutional Assembly shall have the power to invite any person for
consultation and / or to make submissions before the Constitutional Assembly.

13. The Constitutional Assembly shall also have the power to invite any member of the
Public Representations Committee for consultation and / or to make submissions
and / or to report on the findings of the Public Representations Committee.

14. Subject to the provisions hereof, the Constitutional Assembly is hereby authorized
to determine the procedure and mechanisms to be adopted in the conduct of its
business:
Provided that such determination shall be made pursuant to a Resolution moved by
the Prime Minister with the concurrence of the Steering Committee.
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Standing Orders of Parliament, the
rules of procedure of the Constitutional Assembly and its Sub-Committees shall be
as set out in this Resolution.

15. Notice of the business of the Constitutional Assembly shall be given by the Prime
Minister, such other Minister of the Cabinet nominated from time to time for such
purpose by the Prime Minister, upon approval thereof by the Steering Committee.

16. The Sub-Committees referred to in Clause 5(b) shall submit their reports to the
Steering Committee within ten (10) weeks of the appointment of each such Sub-
Committee.

17. Upon the consideration of the Reports of the Sub-Committees appointed under
Clause 5(b), and the report of the Public Representations Committee, the Steering
Committee shall submit a Report to the Constitutional Assembly. Such Report
may be accompanied by a Draft Constitution.

18. The Constitutional Assembly shall thereafter debate the general merits and
principles of the Report and the Draft Constitution (if applicable), and may also
debate proposed amendments. At the end of such debate the question that “the
Steering Committee be required to submit a final report and a Resolution on a Draft
Constitution” shall be put to the Constitutional Assembly by the Chair.

19. The Steering Committee shall thereafter, considering the amendments, if any,
proposed during the debate, submit a Final Report and a Resolution containing a
Draft Constitution for the consideration of the Constitutional Assembly. The Prime
Minister shall move that such Final Report and the Resolution containing the Draft
Constitution be approved by the Constitutional Assembly.

20. The following procedure shall be adopted during the debate referred to in
Clause 18:—
The Chairman or in his absence one of the Deputy Chairmen shall read the number
of each Clause in succession.
(i) Any amendment may be made to a Clause, or Clauses may be deleted or new
Clauses may be added.

(ii) The principle of the Draft Constitution shall not be discussed during this stage
of the debate but only its details.
(iii) No amendment can be proposed inconsistent with any decision come to upon
any previous part of the Draft Constitution.
(iv) After a Draft Constitution has been read through, and prior to the conclusion
of the debate on the Draft, any Member may, with leave of the Chairman,
move an amendment of any Clause already passed.
(v) A Clause may be postponed, unless upon an amendment thereto a question
shall have been fully put from the Chair.
(vi) Postponed Clauses shall be considered after the remaining Clauses of the Draft
Constitution have been considered and before new Clauses are brought in.
(vii) New Clauses may be offered before the Schedules to the Draft Constitution
are considered and shall be deemed to have been read the first time. The
questions which follow thereupon shall be “That the Clause be read a second
time” and “That the Clause (or the Clause as amended) be added to the Draft”.
(viii) New Schedules may be offered after the Schedules to the Draft Constitution
have been disposed of and shall be treated in the same manner as new Clauses.
(ix) When every Clause and Schedule and proposed new Clause or Schedule have
been dealt with, the Preamble, if there be one, shall be considered and a
question put “That this be the Preamble of the Draft ”.
(x) If any amendment be necessary to the title of the Draft Constitution, it shall
be made at the conclusion of the proceedings detailed above.

21. The provisions of Standing Order Nos. 42, 43 and 44 of the Parliament shall
mutatis mutandis apply to the proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly.

22. If two-thirds of the Constitutional Assembly does not approve the resolution on the
Draft Constitution, the Constitutional Assembly and the Committees referred
to in this Resolution shall stand dissolved.

23. If the Constitutional Assembly approves the Resolution on the Draft
Constitution by a two-thirds majority, the Report and the Draft Constitution
shall be submitted by the Steering Committee to the Cabinet of Ministers, and
thereupon the Constitutional Assembly and the Sub-Committees referred to in
this Resolution shall stand dissolved.

24. The Cabinet of Ministers shall certify the Bill contained in such Report as a Bill
to repeal and replace the Constitution as a whole in terms of Article 75(b) and
Article 120(b) of the Constitution and that such Bill is intended to be passed
with the special majority required by Article 83 of the Constitution and
submitted to the People by Referendum.

25. The Bill shall thereafter be published in the Gazette as required by Article
78(1) of the Constitution.

26. The President shall thereafter refer the Bill to every Provincial Council, for the
expression of the views of every such Council, as required by Article 154G(2)
of the Constitution.

27. The Prime Minister shall thereafter present such Bill to Parliament and such
Bill shall be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament.

28. After the presentation of such Bill to Parliament as aforesaid the Prime
Minister shall move that the Bill be passed by Parliament by a special majority
required under Article 83 of the Constitution.
If not less than two-thirds of the whole number of the Members of Parliament
vote in favour of the said Bill, the Speaker shall make an appropriate
certification in terms of Article 79 of the Constitution, that the Bill has been
duly passed by Parliament by a special majority, and that the Bill shall not
become law until approved at a Referendum by the People in whom the
sovereignty of Sri Lanka vests.

29. Thereafter the Bill shall be submitted by the President in terms of Article 85(1)
of the Constitution, to the People by Referendum for their approval.

30. If the Bill is approved by the People at a Referendum, the Bill shall become
law upon the President certifying the Bill in terms of Article 80(2) of the
Constitution.

31. The expenses of the Constitutional Assembly, the Sub-Committees referred to
in Clause 5, and the staff and advisors appointed in terms of this Resolution,
shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund, and Parliament shall take
appropriate steps in respect of same in terms of Article 150 of the Constitution.

32. For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that the adoption or rejection
or adoption subject to amendment of such a Draft Constitution as proposed by
the Constitutional Assembly, shall be the responsibility of Parliament.

33. For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby further declared that a Constitution Bill
shall only be enacted into law if it is passed in Parliament by a special majority
of two-thirds of the whole number of the Members of Parliament, including
those not present and subsequently approved by the people at a Referendum as
required by Article 83 of the Constitution.