The Anti-Corruption Bill faced a tumultuous journey through Parliament, culminating in its passage on Wednesday (19 July). The Bill, initially presented before the House on 06 July, encountered heated debates and was finally approved without a vote.
During the Committee Stage today, the Bill was presented with several amendments proposed by both the Minister and the opposition. The Second Reading debate, held on 21st June and 6th July, further added to the contention surrounding the proposed legislation.
Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) and other concerned parties voiced their objections to the Bill, challenging 37 clauses, including clauses 28(3), 161, and 119, citing concerns about their constitutionality. Among the issues raised were potential infringements on whistleblowing, right to information, freedom of expression, and the principles of transparency and accountability.
The Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus (WPC) also submitted their own proposals for amendments to the Bill. Additionally, the Supreme Court ruled that certain clauses of the Bill were inconsistent with the Constitution and required adjustments before implementation.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena clarified that the identified inconsistencies could be resolved by incorporating the amendments suggested by the Supreme Court. In response, the Additional Solicitor General assured the court that adjustments to clauses 8(3), 136, 141, 142, and 156 would be made to address the concerns raised by the petitioners.
The determined efforts to iron out the issues led to the printing of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hansard report of the parliamentary proceedings on 06 June. With the amendments now incorporated, the Anti-Corruption Bill marks a significant step in the fight against corruption in the country.