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Supreme Court issues temporary order to enforce extended state of emergency

Farah Ahmed
21 February 2018, MVT 22:16
Lawmakers pictured during a parliament session. PHOTO/MAJLIS
Farah Ahmed
21 February 2018, MVT 22:16

The Supreme Court of the Maldives Wednesday evening issued a temporary order to enforce the parliament’s decision to extend the state of emergency by 30-days, until the court gives its conclusive interpretation on the complication that arose during the controversial vote in the parliament Tuesday evening.

During Tuesday’s extraordinary sitting, the parliament had also passed a resolution to refer to the Supreme Court on the disputed issue of the constitutionally mandated quorum to ratify the state of emergency.

The top court, in its temporary order on Wednesday, stated that until it officially gives its referrals as per Article 95 of the Constitution, the parliament’s decision to extend the state of emergency should be put into effect.

According to Article 95, the opinion of the Supreme Court, after the parliament passes a resolution to seek it, should be pronounced in the parliament in a similar manner as in the case of a judgement on appeal to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Article 87 (b) of the Constitution states that voting on any matter requiring compliance by citizens can only be undertaken when half of the total membership of the parliament is present at the voting – which means that at least 43 members must be present at the parliament – only 38 pro-government members were present at the sitting on Tuesday, since the opposition MPs had boycotted vote after deeming it to be unconstitutional.

Parliamentarians had cited Section 38 of Parliament Regulations as grounds to proceed with the vote, claiming that a ‘state of emergency’ is not outlined as an issue requiring public compliance.

Many legal experts, as well as the opposition also maintained that the vote was taken in contravention of the law, and that the state of emergency has expired. Some lawyers even highlighted how the issue at-hand was so obvious that the parliament does not need to seek counsel from the top court.

The approved resolution on the state of emergency reinstated some of the Articles of the Constitution which were initially suspended when the president declared the emergency on February 5. The reinstated Articles are Article 100: Removal of President or Vice President, Article 101: Vote of no confidence in a member of the Cabinet, Article 113: Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and Article 228: Removal of Prosecutor General from office.

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