Decentralisation Act not unconstitutional, Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that provisions of the Decentralisation Act were not in conflict with the constitution.

In March 2011, former State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed ‘Monaza’ Naeem filed a case at the apex court arguing that some provisions of the Act contradicted the unitary nature of the Maldivian state as laid out in the constitution, and requested the conflicting articles to be struck down.

Naeem had argued that the Local Government Authority (LGA) created by the Decentralisation Act was not answerable to any government minister while article 140 of the constitution states that, “A member of the cabinet shall be given responsibility for each authority or institute established by the government or the People’s Majlis, except for independent institutions specified in this constitution or established pursuant law. Such member of the cabinet must take responsibility for the operation of such authority or institution and must be accountable for it.”

The Supreme Court bench that heard the case ruled unanimously that the LGA was not unconstitutional as it was not necessary for a minister to be the administrative head of such an authority or office.

The Justices further noted that article 140 did not envision a cabinet minister to be responsible for elected councils.