The Edition


High court rules former MP Waheed's arrest unlawful

Shahudha Mohamed
25 July 2019, MVT 13:14
Former Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim arriving at court for a hearing session. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
25 July 2019, MVT 13:14

The High Court on Wednesday ruled that former Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim (Lawyer Wadde) was arrested unlawfully, over his entrance into the parliament's secretariat in July 2017.

The Criminal Court had extended Waheed's remand period various times after he was arrested for entering the parliament premises accompanied by other members of the then-opposition.

At the time of his arrest, Elections Commission (EC) declared Waheed disqualified from his seat at parliament, in relation to the Supreme Court's prickly anti-defection ruling, which stated that any lawmaker who resigned or was dismissed after July 13, 2017 from the political party they were registered at during the time of their election to parliament, would lose their seat by default.

However, the Supreme Court overturned EC's decision in late 2018, stating that Waheed would not lose his seat.

The verdict delivered by High Court on Wednesday stated that Waheed was arrested unlawfully without acquiring a court order through the Prosecutor General (PG).

The three judges on the bench for Waheed's case were Judge Hassan Ali, Chief Judge Shujau Usman and Judge Mohamed Niyaz, with Hassan Ali sitting as the presiding judge.

The bench unanimously nullified the order issued by Criminal Court to hold Waheed under custody.

Although the state claimed that he was arrested without a court order as EC had declared him unseated from parliament, High Court's verdict read that only Supreme Court had the power to make decisions where there was reasonable doubt on whether a member had lost their seat.

The verdict further stated that arresting Waheed without a comment from the PG, while he had already filed a case at Supreme Court, which the court had then accepted, was against the Parliamentary Privileges Act.

Judge Mohamed Niyaz also believes that Waheed was arrested illegally, although his reasoning differs from the other two judges on the bench.

As per Judge Niyaz, the article in the Political Parties Act stating that members who resign or are dismissed from their parties will not lose their positions were not omitted from the act, despite Supreme Court sentencing in 2017 that candidates who leave or are removed from their parties will lose their seat in parliament.

Therefore, the judge reasoned that one could not go against the aforementioned article in the Political Parties Act without garnering an opinion of the PG as required by the Parliamentary Privileges Act.

Niyaz further declared that the state's defence in Waheed's case unacceptable, where the authorities claimed that the PG's opinion was not required since EC had decided that Waheed's seat was lost.

Niyaz also concluded that the order to arrest Waheed was illegal since Waheed was arrested without following the legal procedures.

The state initially charged two others in addition to Waheed with trespassing and preventing the responsibilities of government officials in their line of duty. However, the state withdrew these charges later in 2018.