In a significant development, the Supreme Court has conveyed its decision on the Anti-Terrorism Bill to the Speaker of Parliament. The court has emphasized that several clauses within the bill must be passed by a special majority, and some others require both a special majority and a referendum, unless amendments recommended by the Supreme Court are implemented.

The Deputy Speaker informed Parliament today that the Anti-Terrorism Bill can be successfully passed with a simple majority in Parliament, provided that the proposed amendments suggested by the Supreme Court are duly incorporated. This decision comes after a thorough review of the bill’s provisions by the highest judicial authority. The bill was tabled in the parliament on January 10.

Thirty-one petitions had been put forward against the proposed legislation which seeks to replace the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Among the petitioners are His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, General Secretary of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Ranjith Madduma Bandara, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Socialist Youth Union (SYU), Duminda Nagamuwa of Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) and the Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU).

They say the Bill, if passed in its current form, would grant unlimited powers to the Tri-Forces, the Police and the Coast Guard to make unwarranted arrests without reasonable suspicion, and this is a violation of the fundamental rights including the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution. ( )