National People’s Power (NPP) Parliamentarian Dr. Harini Amarasuriya today filed a Special Determination Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the Online Safety Bill.

The petitioner stated that the bill has serious implications for the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, including publication, guaranteed by Article 14(1)(a) of the Constitution. She further said the proposed bill seeks to restrict the freedom of speech and expression, including publication.

Referring to the outcome of the decided Supreme Court case Joseph Perera v. Attorney-General, the petitioner said permissible restrictions on any fundamental rights, even where they are imposed by duly enacted law, must not be excessive.

The petitioner further stated that unlike in the case of other independent commissions, the Constitutional Council does not recommend members to the Online Safety Commission, and five members are appointed to this commission by the President.

The petitioner stated that the powers of the Commission as set out in Clause 11 of the Bill are vague, overbroad, arbitrary, unreasonable, and violative of Articles 3, 4(d), 10, 12(1), and 14(1)(a) of the Constitution. She maintained that this Commission has the power to decide what is the ‘prohibited statement’ or ‘false statement’ and issue directions, with penal consequences if not complied with.

The petitioner is seeking a declaration that the bill requires the approval of the people at a referendum in addition to the 2/3 approval of the Parliament. This petition had been filed through Attorney-at-Law Manjula Balasooriya