Deadlock loosens, as landmark Supreme Court ruling establishes separation of powers

The landmark Supreme Court ruling last week over article 171(i) of parliament’s rules of procedure establishes clear legal precedent for the separation of powers, according to Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad.

Parliament was cancelled for the entirety of last week because MPs from both major parties kept clashing on points of order over parliament’s endorsement of cabinet ministers, who were reappointed by the President in July after resigning en masse in protest against the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition majority parliament.

Now, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) argues that cabinet ministers should be endorsed individually, and is reported to have a list of six ministers it wishes to disapprove. The government meanwhile wants a wholesale endorsement of the cabinet, a function it argues is “ceremonial” arguing that a no-confidence procedure already exists.

At the height of the deadlock several weeks ago, which led to opposition protests, the government went to the Supreme Court in late August claiming that Article 171(i), which states that presidential nominees for the cabinet must be questioned by a parliamentary committee “to determine qualification, educational background and competence”, was outside the constitution.

The Supreme Court issued an injunction against parliament debating the endorsement, but consistent derailment of proceedings by DRP MPs led the Speaker to finally cancel all sessions last week.

The Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that while article 171(i) of the parliament’s rules of procedure does not contradict with constitution, it cannot be used in endorsing cabinet ministers.

Dr Sawad said the ruling “clearly establishes that even if the Majlis does something outside its stated precinct in the constitution, such an act will be ultra vires (beyond its powers)”.

“In terms of legal precedent it has established a Supreme Court endorsement of separation of powers theory in the constitution, and identifies the separate legal precincts of the executive, legislature and judiciary,” he added.

While the ruling installs boundaries for parliament, it is unlikely to resolve the deadlock by itself.

“In terms of the deadlock in the Majlis over cabinet confirmation, the ruling says the Majlis cannot put additional stipulations on endorsing ministers. The ruling still leaves it open to political parties to resolve the matter,” Dr Sawad said.

The DRP has been insistent that it will respect the Supreme Court’s ruling, and that its protests were directed not at the Court but at the government’s use of “delaying tactics” to avoid the controversial cabinet endorsement.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf told Minivan News that the party would still seek to have ministers endorsed individually.

Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed meanwhile wrote on his personal blog that although Article 6 of the new Judicature Act – which has been in force for over a week now – stipulates that each Justice must announce his verdict separately, both the ruling and the sole dissenting opinion was announced by the Chief Justice.

“I wouldn’t dare say they issued the ruling in violation of the law,” he wrote. “But I can say that the way they acted and how it is laid out in the law is not the same.”


9 thoughts on “Deadlock loosens, as landmark Supreme Court ruling establishes separation of powers”

  1. what?! i was expecting another v.detailed, somewhat inaccurate wedding video translation. more of those please.

  2. When a candidate wins the Presidential Elections,that candidate had won the right to form a government. Its two years since Mohamed Nashed won the election. Those who lost the election wouldn't let him formulate a government and allow his cabinet to function smoothly. Al this talk about severally, individually, the Constitution and consent are just excuses to deny the fact that they lost the election. Two years ago.

  3. Kutti, u being an MP asked a rich opposition MP for money because u r in need of money, isn't this in violation of the law????

    Democracy is for the people by the people and people are hungry coz their income is not enough even to support their family with the very basic minimum to live.

    But Kutti, u honorable MPs are paid the highest wages, highest living allowances, highest diplomatic immunity and medical insurance for the whole family that could be used anywhere in the world. And still ur begging and running behind the rich asking for maney..Shame on u...If this does not violate the the law, Kutti v would observe SILENCE like Javvah, Faza ah emmefahun Bolah

  4. Poor Kutti (I need some cash)!

    Begging other MPs for money pretending he is Law Almighty!

  5. I wouldn't dare say that Nasheed is a sod! But I can say,

    You are a genius of its kind!!!! and,
    have you run out of cash !!!!
    For your cunveeenience!

    Kuree victim aiymathim varah dhathi!
    E geyaku neiy!
    Ehen geyeh hoadhdhadhentho!
    Aiymathi emme thiyaagevaanee viyafaari vazeeraai thinbein hifahatta nagaasoru athuga.

  6. personal attack on Kutti, shows there is nothing valid to be commented on the matter. Law is law for everyone. DRP or MDP. BTW wasn't it MDP parliamentarians who included these barriers in the constitution in the first place. no one can act outside the boundary of constitution, even the supreme court. otherwise, we should amend the constitution to say, whoever wins the election can act as he/she wishes for the term.

    shamefully we have lost all our respect in the international arena, politically and otherwise. earlier we were proud to be Maldivian and held our heads high when we travel around the world, today we have to hide the fact that we are Maldivians. All because of the personal interest and gains of cheap politicians. our cultural and religious values have been watered down and compromised for political gains.

  7. Kutti is right in what he said. Even if he is blue or yellow. Even if he asks for money or not. Even if he blackmails others or is a victim of blackmail. I am sure those who comment lack the knowledge to challenge his opinion.

    Certainly the judges are not qualified for their job. So they can't give their own opinion and the facts as well as issues they considered. So its easy for all to agree to one piece of paper.

  8. Funny that Kutti had no opinion on a lot of courts' rulings before. Wonder if this time it is to please sugar uncles..?

  9. Yellow or blue, the impartiality of the Supreme Court is in the interest of all parties. The Court should remain above suspicion. But the ruling has raised questions. very sad for the future of the country.


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