In an unexpected turn of events Wednesday, Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham said that the state of emergency is no longer valid, and that the parliament vote that extended the state of emergency was taken illegally.
Bisham had reportedly written to the police Tuesday night on a personal capacity in light of recent events; she was not offering it legal counsel as the state prosecutor.
However, she had told the police that she no longer believed that the state of emergency was legally valid, and that no one should be held in custody under the declaration.
The Prosecutor General had not officially called the police to release any political detainees.
The Prosecutor General’s Office neither confirmed nor denied the claims, and calls to Bisham went unanswered, at the time of going to press.
Rumours about Bisham’s letter to the police surfaced hours before President Abdulla Yameen was due to deliver the presidential address to the parliament.
Many opposition supporters, including opposition MPs Tweeted claiming that Attorney General Mohamed Anil also concurred with Bisham’s views. They had also praised the Prosecutor General for "upholding the Constitution."
While Bisham was not seen at the ceremony when the president addressed the parliamentarians, Anil was seen amongst the cabinet members who attended the ceremony.
The Prosecutor General’s alleged comments came at a time when many prominent lawyers have declared that the parliament passed the resolution to extend the state of emergency unconstitutionally, and had deemed the emergency to be over.
The parliament Tuesday evening voted on the resolution to extend the state of emergency with 38 pro-government MPs, while the opposition legislators protested the vote, claiming that it was being taken in contravention of the law.
According to Article 87 (b) of the Constitution, voting on any matter requiring compliance by the citizens can only be undertaken when half of the total membership of the parliament is present at the voting. Since there are 85 members in the parliament, the constitutionally mandated quorum to rectify the resolution would be 43 members.
Since then, the Supreme Court has also issued a temporary order calling to enforce the parliament’s decision to extend the state of emergency by 30 days, until it officially gives its referrals, as per Article 95 of the Constitution, which allows MPs to seek the top court’s counsel on disputed matters.
Meanwhile, when the Supreme Court's initial order was issued February 1, the government had conferred the responsibility of reviewing the order and handling all the necessary paperwork pertaining the order, to the Attorney General and Prosecutor General. The offices had even taken its grievances in enforcing the landmark ruling, to Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed.