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Case on legitimacy of MP Yaugoob's seat lodged at SC

Mariyam Malsa
20 September 2020, MVT 20:01
Dhaandhoo MP Yaugoob Abdulla during a parliamentary committee meeting. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
20 September 2020, MVT 20:01

The Supreme Court, on Sunday, received a case concerning the legitimacy of the parliamentary seat of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s representative for Gaafu Alif Atoll's Dhaandhoo constituency, Yauqoob Abdulla.

The case was lodged by Assadh Shareef, a member of the legal team employed by opposition coalition of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC).

Concerns regarding the legitimacy of Yaugoob's parliamentary seat arose after he accepted a position on the transitional council of the recently formed Institute of Chartered Accountants of Maldives (ICAM).

The case submitted to the apex court questions the legitimacy of Yaugoob's seat under Article 73(d) of the Constitution which bars MPs from continuing to serve in any government position excluding those held with respect to their status as parliamentarians.

Despite disclosing that he had sought legal counsel before accepting the post of Prudent Chartered Managing Partner, following the appointment made by Auditor General Hassan Ziyath, Yaugoob tendered his resignation from ICAM on September 15 in response to legal concerns regarding the legitimacy of his parliamentary seat.

"Those who gave me [legal] counsel do not view it as a problem. But as disputes arose, I came to believe that stepping aside would be the best thing to do", stated the parliamentarian, during an interview held with local media outlet Mihaaru.

Legal opinions regarding the matter are divided at present, since Article 73(d) of the Constitution does not specify whether the appointment of an MP to another position will result in disqualification of their parliamentary seat.

According to Article 73(c), parliamentarians will immediately lose their seats over failure to settle an outstanding debt, imposition of a criminal conviction that carries a sentence of more than one year, a previous criminal conviction with a sentence of more than one year, unless a period of three months has elapsed following release, or in situations that the individual currently holds a position in the judiciary.

Furthermore, Maldives' constitution stipulates that the Supreme Court holds sole jurisdiction, in determining disputes concerning the qualifications or removal of parliamentarians.