Thursday, October 6, 2016

Buddhist Temporalities and Kathikawath Bills held back

The government yesterday decided to postpone the debate on the Buddhist Temporalities (Amendment) Bill and the Theravadi Bhikku Kathikawath (Registration) Bill indefinitely in the light of protests from certain quarters of the Buddhist clergy. The two Bills were earlier scheduled to be taken up for debate this week in Parliament.

Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe speaking to the Daily News said they had asked all the Mahanayakas, Chapters and Nikayas to sign a common agreement on the Bills and thereafter the government would present the Bills to Parliament.

“The Government’s stance is that we cannot get involved in religious matters. It is the Mahanayakas who have to discuss this but there has been no consensus reached”, said Minister Rajapakshe.

The Bills have been discussed for several decades with it first being presented to Parliament in the 1970s, according to the Minister.

The Bill then was based on recommendations made by the Buddhist Commission in 1953.

The issue of contention appears to be in the process of electing the ‘Diyawadana Nilame’.

“The Mahanayakes of the Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapter asked to present the Bills with no changes made to the electoral system of the Diyawadana Nilame.

But today (3) we received a letter from other Mahayanayakas asking that the debate be postponed as they too wanted voting rights.

The Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters have opposed this”, explained the Minister.

“Religious leaders asked us to bring this in and now they want it stopped,”he added. .

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