Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (April 27) said in Parliament that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution would only be effective from April 30 if the Bill was passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament today. The Prime Minister said this provision was included in the Bill to provide space to present the Right to Information Bill and National Audit Commission Bill as urgent bills in Parliament.
He noted that the Government had told the public that both Bills would be taken up in Parliament after the 19th Amendment as urgent bills.
"However, if the opposition is against presenting these bills as urgent bills, we will refrain from presenting them. You have the majority. However, I must remind that the presenting of urgent bills was not a new thing. The previous government presented the 18th Amendment to the Constitution as an urgent bill and took away all our rights. Therefore your objections cannot be justified at this point," he observed.
The Prime Minister said the draft Right to Information Bill has allowed more access to information than the previous Private Members Bill of MP Karu Jayasuriya in 2010.
"Prof G. L. Peiris said they were unaware of the content of the Bill. If you have read the draft bill of Karu Jayasuriya there is no reason to object to the proposed new Bill. You are against giving the right to information to the people," he commented.
MP Dinesh Gunawardena said the Government had rushed the Bill to Supreme Court before presenting it in Parliament at this point. The Prime Minister agreed to provide a copy of the Bill to the MPs.
Prof G. L. Peiris was also of the opinion that the Bill should have been presented in Parliament before referring it to the Supreme Court. Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva requested the government to provide a reasonable time for the MPs to study the content of the Bill.