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Supreme Court cannot interfere with parliament affairs: Speaker Aslam

Members of the Parliament deliberates against the order of the Supreme Court and the Speaker declares no outside body holds the power to influence decisions voted in by the parliamentarians.

Aishath Shuba Solih
11 February 2024, MVT 16:24
President of the Parliament, Mohamed Aslam
Aishath Shuba Solih
11 February 2024, MVT 16:24

Parliament Speaker Mohamed Aslam has stated that they cannot abide by the order of the Supreme court to annul the amendment voted by the parliament to exclude the vacant seats when counting the quorum of the parliamentary sessions and expressed his concerns about the decision.

Sitting on a case submitted by the Attorney General's Office, the apex court had issued a temporary order to repeal the amendment earlier brought to the Parliament regulations.

The order dictates that the state claims the amendment violates the Constitution and thus, the implementation of the amendment must be halted.

The Speaker, presiding over today's parliament sitting, addressed this order and stated this interim order was made without deliberating whether the amendment violates the Constitution and stated that that was a cause for concern.

He stressed that the sitting cannot resume without having a clear understanding of the minimum quorum of the parliament.

“The order issued against the parliament by this court [Supreme Court] was decreed without concluding the issue, without deliberating whether it breaches the constitution,” said Aslam.

He said that no institution has the authority to influence decisions made by the parliament and the protocols for counting the parliament attendance will also be decided by the parliament.

However, in the deliberation underway in relation, Meedhu Constituency parliamentarian, Rozaina Adam, opined that counting the quorum of the parliament inclusive of vacant, empty seats contradicts common sense.

“As long as no one is elected, these seats remain empty; hence, if this session is to continue inclusive of them, someone must be present to fill the position during polling. Members need to be present to fill the required number. Members must be present to debate as well,” she said.

As stated by her, counting the quorum inclusive of people who cannot partake in committees, vote or debate is equivalent to including deceased people in the quorum.

“As such, during the distribution of dates this Ramadan, the state must send them for dead people in the households as well,” quipped Rozaina, expressing her displeasure of the Supreme Court’s order.

A People's parliament session underway

Fonadhoo Constituency’s PNC member, Moosa Siraaj said that parliament regulations clearly state members cannot debate a pending court case. The member’s concern was the transpiring deliberation.

However, Aslam acknowledged that as the matter concerns the parliament as a whole, it is necessary to conclude the case within the constitutional policies.

Aslam had commenced the session after establishing the quorum as 87 before a conclusion had been reached on the matter, which some members had expressed concerns over.

“Even as I began, I stated that the parliament sitting will proceed as determined by the parliament. Anything done within the framework of the constituency is a power conferred on the parliament by the constitution and parliamentary privileges. It is hard to accept another entity determining the procedures of the parliament and directing the parliament to halt their affairs,” Aslam said.

“Nevertheless, in respect of the Supreme Court, we have accepted that the total number of parliamentarians today is 87 members. This a what I have done as Speaker. A final decision will be determined by the members.”

Addressing Aslam’s statements, Hoarafushi Constituency Member, Ahmed Saleem said that the Speaker of the parliament cannot decide the total number of members as 87 and stressed that that is a power conferred to the members.

“This parliament has determined that the count is 80. As long as that decision in not replaced, the Speaker cannot declare ‘I do not accept, I have determined it to be 87’,” said Saleem.

Kendikulhudhoo constituency member, Ahmed Easa highlighted that there are no regulations that allow another party to influence decisions deliberated by the parliament. He stated that as such, not even the Speaker of the parliament holds such rights.

Judge Dr. Azmiralda Zahir, who received the majority on the Supreme Court order, declared in her ruling that up until the amendment, quorum of a parliament session was determined as directed in the 71st Act of the Constitution and the official quorum of the session will be determined under the Article 86 of the Constitution.

The standard quorum for making parliamentary decision are in the Article 87 of the Constitution. While the constitution has been enforced for years, the order states that the quorum of daily parliamentary sessions will be based on these articles in the constitution.

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