The Attorney General’s Department informed the Supreme Court yesterday (18) that the Government has decided to introduce several amendments to the proposed Online Safety Bill.
The Additional Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the Attorney General, told Courts the amendments would be included in the parliamentary committee stage. These amendments will encompass alterations to the appointment procedure for members of the Online Safety Commission, as proposed under the law among others.
The Additional Solicitor General made these representations when the fundamental rights petitions filed against the Online Safety Bill were taken up before the Supreme Court for the first time yesterday.
The President of the Bench, Supreme Court Justice Priyantha Jayawardena noted in open court that at least 50 petitions have been filed against the newly proposed law.
The petitions were taken up before a bench consisting of Justices Priyantha Jayawardena, Shiran Gunaratne and Achala Wengappuli.
Petitioners against the Bill included the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Former SJB MP Mujibur Rahman, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya, Former Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) President Saliya Peiris PC, Former BASL President Geoffrey Alagaratnam PC, Former Government Information Department Director General Dr Ranga Kalansooriya, Activist Tharindu Uduwaragedara, Center for Policy Alternatives, Hashtag Generation, Media Law Forum, Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association and others.
The petitioners are requesting the court to declare specific clauses of the Bill as unconstitutional and to therefore determine that it would need to be passed by not less than two-thirds of Members of Parliament and approved by the people at a referendum.