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Recent amendment to Parliament regulations against Supreme Court order: State

Mariyath Mohamed
21 February 2024, MVT 15:30
Attorney General's Office's Counsel General Fathimath Haleem speaking in Supreme Court today.
Mariyath Mohamed
21 February 2024, MVT 15:30

Speaking in the Supreme Court hearing today, the State has claimed that the recent amendments the parliament brought to the Parliament regulations are against the Supreme Court order and hence not legitimate.

They said that the changes were brought after the Supreme Court issued an interim order to halt implementation of the amendment concerning counting of total number of parliament members. The interim order was issued after the Attorney General's Office submitted a case to Supreme Court asking to rescind the amendment, maintaining that the phrasing of "total number of parliamentarians" mentioned in three articles under Article 49 of the Parliament Regulations is in contravention of the Constitution's Article 71.

Counsel General of the Attorney General's Office Fathimath Haleem specified in court today the reasons why the State maintains the amendments to the regulations regarding the definition of 'total number of parliamentarians'. She said that it is determined under Article 71 of the Constitution that the total number of parliamentarians of the 19th Parliament is 87. She then claimed that the amendments brought to the regulations to change this number was done in contravention of the stipulations for making regulations as defined in Article 88 (a) of the Constitution. Based on this, the State appealed to the court to revoke the amendments.

From the Judges' bench, Judge Dr Azmiralda Zahir enquired whether the the articles that have been requested to be revoked are still being acted upon in parliament. These are Article 49 g, h and e.

After the Supreme Court had already announced the hearing date for the case, the General Committee of Parliament approved the removal of these three contested articles from the rules.

Instead, the committee approved adding a similar clause to Article 242, that while counting the total number of members, vacant seats will not be counted if there is not sufficient time, as stated in law, remaining in a term for another member to be elected to the seat.

The State shared this fact with the Court.

"Because we see an issue with this, because we believe the issue remains, we are continuing the case as is. We have previously requested for an interim order in relation to this case. This Court has then reached a decision on that order. The Supreme Court of the Maldives ordered to proceed as things had been before. Meaning to proceed as things were before these amendments were brought," Haleem said.

Haleem maintains that amendments brought to the regulations after the interim order from the Supreme Court was issued would not be legit.

"As we see it, the parliament is acting against the Supreme Court order while Article 76 of the Judicature Act clearly states that court orders must be abided by. Hence, we do not believe the parliament's actions are legally acceptable, and that is why we are proceeding with this case," she said.

Judge Azmiralda responded by asking if revocation of the requested amendments would provide the solution the State is seeking.

The State held that the Supreme Court can reach an overall decision on the matter of counting parliament member total according to the Constitution. Hence, the later amendment would not make much of a difference to the basis of the case.

The hearing proceeded for two hours today. The Judges raised several questions in regard to the amendments to the Parliament Regulations, the justifications and the results.

Judge Azmiralda stated that if no further clarifications were found to be necessary, the ruling would be announced at the next hearing. A date has not yet been set.

In addition to Judge Azmiralda, Judge HusnuSuood and Judge Mahaz Ali Zahir, Judge Aisha Shujoon and Judge Dr Mohamed Ibrahim are on the bench.

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