Constitutionality of Online Safety Bill challenged before Supreme Court

3 October 2023 05:12 pm – 4      – 1004

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Former President of the Sri Lanka Young Journalists’ Association, Tharindu Uduwaragedara today filed a Special Determination petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Online Safety Bill, which was placed on the order paper of Parliament today (03).

Through this petition, the petitioner is seeking a declaration that the bill requires approval by the people at a Referendum in addition to the 2/3 approval of Parliament.

The Online Safety Bill was published in the Gazette on September 15, 2023, and placed on the Order Paper of Parliament on October 3, 2023.

The petitioner said the Online Safety Commission under Clause 5 of the Bill provides for the Commission to consist of five members appointed by the President, unlike in the case of other independent Commissions, the Constitutional Council does not recommend the members.

The petitioner further stated that Clauses 12 to 25 create overbroad, over-inclusive and vague offences and violate Articles 3, 4(d), 10, 12(1) and 14(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The petitioner is requesting the Supreme Court to determine that this Bill, in its entirety, is inconsistent with Articles 3, 4, 10, 12(1), and 14(1)(g) of the Constitution or any one or more of them and must be passed by a special majority and approved by the people at a Referendum as required by Articles 83 and 84(2) of the Constitution.  (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)